One of the most essential improvements that has happened to Detroit and the city’s neighborhoods in recent months has been the addition of new lighting, highlighting efforts to improve safety and physical rehabilitation of storefronts and residential developments around the area.
To that end, it was with great anticipation that those same lights came to one of Detroit’s most celebrating shopping districts. This week, Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans along with the Avenue of Fashion Business Association and University Commons turned on a new lighting project within the city.
Known as the Historic Avenue of Fashion Business District Lighting Project, it will include the installation of 160 LED lights along the front and rear of businesses, in alleys and parking lots located on Livernois between Clarita and St. Martins in northwest Detroit.
The Greater Wayne County Economic Development Corporation awarded a $106,000 grant to University Commons for the lighting project. University Commons is managing the lighting installation project. All 160 lights are expected to be installed within 45 days and all parking lot lighting will be completed before Christmas. Once installed, lights will be maintained by business owners and contractors.
Nearby business owners such as April Anderson are estatic about the changes to the area and to how local government and organizations are responding to their successful business district.
Anderson is co-owner of Good Cakes and Bakes, which has been on the Avenue of Fashion since 2013. Her baked goods, friendly space and wonderful patrons make this a must-see place on Livernois. And having these lights will bring more people to her tasty store, Anderson believes.
“It’s a big difference,” said Anderson, whose Gooey Butter Cake is legend. Trust me. “Before I couldn’t see the sign of the business next door. Now I can see all the way down to 7 Mile. Also, it’s great that we have the double arm lights, so that it lights up the sidewalk for pedestrians can see as they walk.
“I was super excited because we have been doing so many things to light up our businesses for over two years now,” said Anderson, who is part of a group hosting a “Ladies Night Out” with eateries such as 1917 American Bistro, stores/educational facilities such as Detroit Fiber Works, apparel retailer Simplycasual clothing store and others including Greenbliss, Sherwood Forest Art Gallery, Jo’s Gallery and Motown’s Bag Gallery. (Check in from one of those stores if you want to throw off your ‘New Detroit’ vibe.)
The LED lights are being strategically installed to illuminate the front of buildings and parking lots as a supplement to the 59 new street pole lights recently installed by the city of Detroit’s Public Lighting Authority. Business owners expect that the additional lighting will lead to increased foot traffic during one of the busiest shopping times of the year.
At the press conference, held at CGB Design Studio located at 19132 Livernois, County Executive Evans was joined by Avenue of Fashion Business Association president Dolphin Michael, and University Commons program manager Lolita Haley. Also in attendance were other Avenue of Fashion business owners, residents, community leaders and local officials.
“The lights being installed on businesses and in the alleys will provide additional security, opportunity for more foot traffic, and extended open hours and comfort for our community,” Lolita Haley, Program Manager at University Commons, added. “Business owners and surrounding neighbors are confident the upcoming holiday season shopping experience will be enhanced and a benefit to all.”
University Commons selected two Wayne County contractors to manufacture and install the new LED lighting. Woman-owned Americas Green Line was hired to be the project’s lighting and manufacturing contractor and Detroit Power Systems will serve as the project’s union electrical contractor.
“My office is committed to economic development that makes a direct impact on Wayne County residents, businesses and visitors,” Wayne County Executive Evans said in a statement. “The new lighting will help attract customers and keep the local community thriving. The new lights will also promote a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone who visits the Historic Avenue of Fashion Business District.”
“We extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation to Wayne County for facilitating the installation of the lights on Livernois,” said Dolphin Michael Jr., President of the Livernois Avenue of Fashion. “We look forward to the days ahead and the upcoming holiday season as we celebrate a safe and bustling district once again.”