Stores in the spotlight

Loves Furniture takes over the old Art Van’s

The old Art Van location on Eureka Road and Racho will soon be getting a new lease on life as it and 17 other former Art Van locations across Michigan reopen as Loves Furniture. The announcement broke in mid-July, and the location is tentatively scheduled to open sometime in September.

The story is the latest chapter in the lengthy history of Art Van Furniture, which went from powerhouse to liquidation in three years. In mid-2017, the company was riding the wave, a combination of immense profits, expansion into new markets and appeared ready to double its growth and cement its standing as a regional powerhouse, according to Neil Stern of Forbes Magazine. Instead, just three short years later, it announced that it would close its stores forever, a combination of poor decision making and bad timing. 

 The sad saga started when Art Van was purchased by Thomas H. Lee Partners LP for an estimated $550M from the company’s founder, Art Van Elslander. The buyer used debt to finance the transaction, and faced significant turnover in the executive ranks of the old company – the team that had been very successful. Attempting to expand too quickly, it was caught in the middle of a battle between higher rental rates on its leased properties, online commerce from sites like Wayfair and even the tariff war between the U.S. and China. All of this contributed to Art Van’s unbelievably fast demise.

 Into the void steps Loves. According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, the new company could hire up to 1,000 staffers, many of which will likely be former Art Van employees, according to published statements from Loves Furniture CEO Matt Damiani. He told the Freep that Loves was investing millions of dollars into the 18 locations, focusing on appealing to every budget level and online shoppers.

 Loves Furniture actually grew directly out of the bankruptcy, as US Assets Inc. purchased 17 former Art Van leased locations in Michigan, along with properties in five other states, for $6.9M. The deal eventually grew into the 18th location, the former Art Van flagship store in Canton. The Loves name comes from Jeff Love, founder and CEO of US Assets.

In addition to Taylor and Canton, Loves will open in Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Bay City, Burton, Howell, Livonia, Muskegon, Petoskey, Port Huron, Portage, Royal Oak, Saginaw, Shelby Township, Warren (8 Mile), Waterford Township and Westland.

loves logo
bubbas 33

Bubba’s 33 next to the old Art Van

Bubba’s 33, a new sports-themed family restaurant, opened last month, ending a rather lengthy story. An offshoot of the Texas Roadhouse brand that has been highly successful in the community, Bubba’s 33 was first announced back in 2016. It marked only the second restaurant in the national chain planning a Michigan opening. 

However, various details held up the actual build out. When it finally started rolling, the opening was delayed by the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, leaving Larry Lilly, his family and nearly 200 employees on hold. 

While the pandemic hasn't ended, Bubba's delays finally did. The restaurant held a "soft" invite-only opening, followed by a grand opening June 29 that included Mayor Rick Sollars, City Council members, staffers and even fire and police personnel and vehicles. Many Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber members and staff also attended. 

The new restaurant is located in the Burlington Square Center, just west of Art Van Furniture and Men’s Warehouse. 

The chain is named for founder Kent “Bubba” Taylor, with the 33 referencing the year prohibition ended in the United States. Taylor also is the CEO of Texas Roadhouse. The Bubba’s 33 building is done exceptionally well, both on the exterior and the interior, which is very upbeat featuring large TVs in every direction and a sports motif. 

Bubba's is yet another solid addition to the “Eureka Way!” retail and entertainment district between Telegraph and Allen Roads. Southland Center has made millions of dollars in improvements, and additions like Menards and BJ's Wholesale Club have made the area one of the most attractive development spots in Michigan. Bubba's is open 4-11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 10-10 on Sundays. Call (734) 479-9610 for more information.

Hook & Reel first Michigan location on Telegraph Road

Hook & Reel has been one of the most popular Cajun-style seafood restaurants for years, with 34 locations starting in Maryland and stretching across the country. It’s first Michigan location recently opened at 7938 Telegraph Road, and it features everything this area loves – hospitality, shared family meals and great food flavors.

The menu features an assortment of Cajun country seafood boils, prepared in signature sauces. Thanks to the new cocktails-to-go bill in Michigan, which allows restaurants to offer mixed drinks to go, Hook & Reel has developed a unique to-go cup that acts like a juice pouch with a straw attached. It can be filled with one of the restaurant’s four signature cocktails that complement its food offerings.

Hook & Reel is open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 11:30-11:30 Fridays and Saturdays. Call (313) 982-7979.


Hampton Manor moving ahead with senior facility

Hampton Manor has been approved by the Planning Commission to build a 72-unit elderly assisted living center on 6.18 acres of property on the northwest corner of Pardee Road and Superior.

The developers worked with the City for months refining the project, which will include amenities like a putting green, salon, spa, theatre, library, outdoor walking paths, benches and gazebo. It will be located northwest corner of Pardee and Superior, within walking distance of the Eureka Way! business and entertainment district.

 Hampton has years of experience in providing care to seniors. It has used its knowledge, the latest technology and the highest standards of hospitality and care to develop and operate some of the most advanced, top rated, newly built, and friendly senior living communities in the nation. Its portfolio consists of several assisted living communities, and it has created a team of thoroughly trained and licensed staff who take pride in being a part of the Manor Senior Living family — physicians, licensed nurses, nursing assistants, caregivers, therapists, activity directors and managers.


World Gateway of Taylor begins buildout on Inkster Road

Clearing for the World Gateway of Taylor project has been ongoing along Inkster Road, north of Eureka. The unique project calls for an 83,500-square-foot industrial center that includes three environmentally friendly “green” buildings and a parking lot made of permeable pavers for vehicle storage targeting traffic to and from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Even the parking lot canopies will hold solar panels.

A “green” building is a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and has a positive effect on climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve quality of life. Some elements of typical green buildings include efficient use of energy, water and other resources; use of renewable energy, such as solar energy; pollution and waste reduction measures, and the enabling of re-use and recycling; good indoor environmental air quality; and use of materials that are non-toxic, ethical and sustainable.

Likewise, permeable pavers are environmentally friendly, although installation is difficult and expensive. Parking lots made of permeable pavers reduce or eliminate the need for drainage systems and provide lower long-term costs. For example, over a recent three-year period, the University of California Santa Cruz installed six permeable paver parking lots on its campus, totaling more than 150,000-square-feet. The lots had the ability to handle heavy traffic, and eliminated the need for run off detention (had they been concrete or asphalt). Storm water filtering through these type of pavers is considered one of the best management practices by industry experts.

Pronto Freight Way builds addition

Pronto Freight Ways Inc. (13485 Inkster) is the most well-designed logistical trucking firms in Taylor, and will be adding a new 16,500-square-foot addition to its existing property. The plan was approved by the Planning Commission in April. Founded in 1999 by Paul F. Wozniak, Pronto has become one of the most diverse carriers in the Detroit market. His 35 years in the industry grew Pronto from a single truck carrier to an impressive fleet comprised of Sprinter & Cargo Vans, Straight Trucks and 53' Dry Vans.  Aside from local operations, Pronto Freightways, Inc. also operates throughout the Midwest. 

American Freight readies for business

American Freight, formerly the Sears Outlet at 9860 Telegraph Road, has been approved for business and is currently going through the inspection process. Specializing in furniture, mattresses and appliances, American offers free curbside service, contactless home delivery and preventive in-store measures during this health crisis. The name on the outside of Sears Outlet stores may have changed to American Freight, but the stores are thriving with expanded product offerings. Since 1994, American Freight has been helping customers save money on quality furniture and mattresses. It buys directly from manufacturers and sells directly in warehouse style stores. By cutting out the middle man it keeps overhead costs low. American Freight offers same day delivery on all in-stock items and flexible payment options. 


City plans plaza at Northline and Inkster

The City of Taylor is building an entry plaza, to be constructed at Northline and Inkster roads. It will include electronic marquee signage, sidewalks, landscaping sections, trees, backlighting and incorporate the brick columns and black ornamental fencing identified with the Downtown Development Authority’s guidelines in other areas of the community. This capital outlay is funded by the Tax Increment Finance Authority, and the cost of approximately $330,000 came in some $200,000 under budget. The corner parcel, which includes 32 acres overall, has been owned by authority since 1998. The site is located in what is commonly referred to as the Detroit Metropolitan Airport’s “ring road” development area, where private companies could leverage their proximity to the airport (as well as freeways and nearby rail) to the global marketplace.

TIFAs capture the year-to-year growth in property values within a designated district on an annual basis. They have the ability to reinvest those dollars in “public facilities,” as defined by the statute, within the district. These authorities are essentially an economic development tool, and deal in what is commonly known as "restricted funds” that can only be approved for specific usage.

Vast commerce parks dominate the Northline/Inkster area and employ thousands of workers surrounding the proposed plaza. Major companies like Load One Transport, Printwell, US Ecology, Windsor Machine & Stamping, Lear and Beaumont Mobile Medicine are all located in the vicinity. Eventually, eastbound Northline opens up at Beech Daly to the City’s Department of Public Works, UPS, Downriver Fish & Loaves Food Pantry and the Lakes of Taylor Golf Course.

“This type of plaza helps create a sense of identity for the development area,” Mayor Rick Sollars said. “From a strategic standpoint, it is being placed in excellent position to become a key point as airport industrial development continues and hopefully increases in the future. This not only benefits Taylor’s image, but should be an advantage to further developing that particular parcel of land, as well as the surrounding areas and businesses. It’s an initial enhancement, and we will look to further improve the property by working with DTE on infrastructure improvements; consider our options with the Lange Drain (running through the property); and study storm water retention options.”

 Northline Road was originally widened and improved throughout Taylor nearly two decades ago after being named as a major connector between I-75 and the airport. In fact, it connects the Downriver communities along the Detroit River with not only the airport, but truck routes to Western Wayne communities, Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and beyond.

Marriott Hotels planned on old Ramada site near Eureka and I-75

Preparations continue for two new Marriott Hotels – a Fairfield Inn and TownePlace Suites – on the vacant location of the former Ramada Inn on Eureka Road, just east of I-75. The plans call for two, four-story hotels. The Fairfield Inn will have 100 rooms; the TownePlace Suites will have 116.

The Fairfield Inn & TownePlace Suites are two of a dozen hotel versions that Marriott offers. The Fairfield Inn series is included in its “select service” category. Courtyard by Marriott and SpringHill Suites by Marriott are two other brands that fall into that “select service” class.

The TownePlace Suites line is part of an “extended stay” series, built for the traveler. These properties feature modern spacious suites with full kitchens, free Wi-Fi and breakfast. Others that fall into that same class are Residence Inn and Marriott Executive Apartments.

Other classes offered by Marriott include luxury (i.e. Ritz-Carlton); lifestyle collection (Renaissance Hotels); signature (Marriott Hotels & Resorts); and destination entertainment (Gaylord Hotels).

The Ramada Inn complex was torn down in 2015 when a new developer acquired the site. Plans for a hotel, or more than one hotel, had surfaced from time to time. The developer owned both the old Ramada site and the former Taylor Tool location on the northern side of Eureka Road.

A new strip mall was eventually built on the abandoned Taylor Tool location and is anchored by La-Z-Boy. Tropical Smoothies and Detroit Wing Co. are also in that center, which is directly across from Trader’s Pointe.

For a lengthy period of time, Taylor featured only a single hotel location, Comfort Inn & Suites on Telegraph Road north of I-94. But soon it will have three – Fairfield Inn, TownePlace Suites and Hilton Home2Suites, on Pardee Road across from Southland Center and Target.