Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The "Dead Zone"; Dearborn Michigan

There are several such "dead zones" that I know of in the area, but this one is my favorite. I don't know if there is a name for this strip mall, but its at the corner of Telegraph Road and Michigan Avenue in Dearborn. This area is kind of strange in the way that you have both very wealthy and very poor communities right next to each other. It sits to the south of the Gully/Cherry Hill corridor, which is where the richy-rich of Dearborn and Dearborn Heights live. Then travel 5 minutes to the west in you are in Inkster, one the poorest of the Detroit suburbs. This shoppin center is also isolated from Telegraph, as Michigan Ave is bridged over it. At its peak, the dead zone had a Wendy's, a Showcase Cinema (formerly the Dearborn Theater), Big Boy, IHOP, Chuckie Cheese, DTE energy customer service center, a Dental office, Kids Spot, Toys R Us, Pep Boys, and a Caddie Dealership. I site this centers demise for the following reasons:
1. Its Isolation from busy Telegraph RD.
2. The changing demographics of the area
3. The condition of the center
4. Its proximity to the stuggling city of Inkster.

The strip mall part of the center is pretty unexciting looking, with a dull exterior and a tore up parking lot. The 1st businesses to leave was the Pep Boys or the IHOP in the late 90's. The Pep Boy's remains vacant to this day, and the building itself is really falling apart. The old IHOP was torn down and replaced with a Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins. Something odd about this is that IHOP just opened a new location a mile north of where the old one was! The new location is on Ford Road and is a big success from what I hear. I drive by it everyday and the parking lot is always packed! Anyway, it was all downhill from there for the dead zone. The Showcase Cinema folded soon after cause of the new Star at Fairlane Town Center. It now sits boarded up and for sale. The Caddie Dealership moved their operation to a new, bigger showroom and lot in downtown west Dearborn (at least they tore the vacant building down). The DTE customer service center, another store, and most recently, the Wendys are also closed now. I visited the center earlier today and the parking lot was pretty empty. It looks like the remaining businesses aren't doing that well save the Big Boy. I wonder how bad it will get before the owners decide to invest some money in it. Its still a prime location and would do well if they would remodel and add a mix of stores that fit the area's clientele. Although, its isolation from Telegraph does not help. Inkster could do a lot to improve their situation as well. I will let you know if I find out anything about any changes to the dead zone or planned improvements.

From Telgraph RD going west:

Former Wendys

Former Showcase Cinema

Big Boy, the strongest business in the center.

Dunkin Donuts

The strip mall; Chuckie Cheese, Dentist, former DTE CSC, Kids Spot, Unidentified Vacant Space, and Toys R Us.

Former Pep Boys; Label Scar and all.

At least Caddie had enough sense to tear down their vacant building.


lallamina said...

All of that wasted space devoted to empty parking lots is frustrating. It is so ugly and so inefficient!

Kristina said...

I'm so late seeing this but I googled something about showcase and found your blog. For the longest before star fairlane we'd spend our weekends at showcase. We'd get a bite to eat at wendy's and then head over to the movie, sometimes a little early just to stop by the arcade. And this wasn't like 20-15 years ago, this was pratically 4 years ago at the most. Passing some time ago, I was shocked to see that it was closed but visiting that Chuck E. Cheese today really made it hit home. I can imagine the wendy's there saw a major decline in business the instant it was closed. It's so sad to see what felt like my description of americana all boarded up. I honestly can't stand star fairlane, in fact I still went to showcase instead when it was open. Again, just real sad to see what's become of that area.

Anonymous said...

Weird, I've done xmas shopping at that Toys R Us every year since I moved back in '04. Never knew there was a Pep Boys, lol. They should put a park there, but that would probably get trashed too.

Shayne said...

when I moved to Livonia in 2001 I worked in Dearborn and it was a really nice place; however, it has really crumbled and I never go out there because to the new parking setup. I have a feeling that killed a lot of the city. there was even now life moving in (for example pizza papalis).

Also to keep places like livonia mall area from becomeing run down we need to not annexing new property to build on ecause a deep pocket Corp wants to build in one spot and not another.

Anonymous said...

Man, I'll be bummed when that Toys R Us goes. That particular TRU and the now loooong gone Children's Palace near Fairlane were the highlights of my childhood. My childhood which, despite my age of 33, is still going on.

Tim said...

Its coming down..another memory of growing up LONG GONE! (Thanks Ernie!)what a great place to see a movie. The big screen that is, How the west was won, Wizard of Oz, GONE WITH THE WIND! Wow! not as good as IMAX, but for time it was GOOD! Now things are gooing Mercury Resturant, The Mercury, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Hudsons at Christmas time downtown on Woodward. I grew up in a good time,seen a lot of good things come and go. Family and friends, sad but true.
There is a lot of life left, soive it with a smile and enjoy the ones your with! sounds like a good song. Peace, love and Rock On!

Anonymous said...

I too came looking for the old cinema as I'm working on a list of Charles Agree buildings. He did some fine work which unfortunately has not faired well. Thanks for the great photos. This destruction of buildings and too many parking lots has become too common here in Tucson as well. As an architectural historian its very sad to do a survey on a building and then to see it come down. Keep your love of old buildings, its a wonderful addiction!