The Detroit Avenue Demolition Derby is on. Have we ever seen so many buildings knocked down in such short order on the city’s main commercial street?
First the church at Detroit and Arthur . . . then this neglected commercial building at Detroit and Edwards. Soon we’ll see the old Detroit Theater come tumbling down.
These three buildings are a snapshot of the way business sees Lakewood’s commercial corridor. It’s a place to invest, to be sure. There’s money to be made here. We’ve got a lot of people packed in close together–about 10,000 per square mile.
But the businesses that can afford to build new buildings here seem to be national chains, especially drug stores and fast food. And that means except for low wage retail jobs, the money made in these establishments leaves the city. I’d love to see buildings inhabited by my neighbors’ enterprises, but I fear that large corporations have priced us out of our own market.
What business comes next to Detroit at Edwards remains to be seen. At least the CVS that replaced the church steeple just a few blocks away at Detroit and Arthur offers some hope that the Architectural Board of Review will maintain the aesthetic of the city. But the style of the building is only part of the picture.
The other, even more significant issue, is what kind of business will it be? Is there an investor who believes that Lakewood is a good place to sell something other than fast food and prescription drugs?
We’ll have to wait to find out. According to the city, no development plans have been submitted for the corner of Edwards and Detroit. The building was demolished for safety reasons, to ensure that no chunks of masonry fell on passers by.
We’re assured that the lot will be graded and planted with grass until some viable use is found. That will be nice.
I’m rooting for the owner in his quest to find something complementary to the neighborhood. When it comes to development on my block, there’s just one thing I want more than interested parties to make money on thriving businesses: I want their businesses to respect the fact that they’re built just a few dozen feet from a whole lot of private homes.