Black History Month: Reviving Detroit's historic Avenue of Fashion
DETROIT (WJBK) - The music of Motown coming alive in the '50s and '60s, and life in the Motor City was booming.
Post World War II marked the beginning of one of the biggest economic booms in American history. It saw the birth of "American excess" -- having more and playing more. It's when we started shopping for leisure, not just necessity. In northwest Detroit -- the Avenue of Fashion was where style was king.
Livernois Avenue between Six Mile and Eight Mile roads was a stronghold of luxury shopping with stores like B. Siegel, Sibley's shoes, Jacobson's, Billy's Clothing.
Eventually The Avenue, like other Detroit neighborhoods, fell on hard times. Crime along Livernois soared and the businesses left.
Now as Detroit once again begins to thrive, community and business leaders are pushing to bring back Detroit's historic Avenue of Fashion, and revive the entire neighborhood.
"People have come out of nowhere, owning businesses, and walking the Avenue shopping. I think the malls have run its course; we have so many mall closings. People want that boutique personalized shopping experience, and they've chosen Livernois to do that," says Renata Seals-Evans, co-owner of Goodness Gracious.
"It's more personal, it's more hands-on and it's more consideration given to you as an individual," says Kelly Anne Jones, a florist with Goodness Gracious.
Shops like Times Square, Goodness Gracious and Narrow Way Cafe are building on success.
"Now what you have is just a plethora of opportunity of business owners that are opening up places that meet the needs of the people, not only in this neighborhood but those that are coming to the Avenue of Fashion," says Jonathan Merritt from Narrow Way Cafe. "All of these different, wonderful stores are able to uniquely give people exactly what they've been looking for in terms of the shopping experience. The personalized touch is what sets us apart from the big box retailer malls."
Major development is coming to the avenue once again.
What was once the B. Siegel building will soon be transformed into housing for staff and students at the University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College. It also will include retail space and underground parking.
"Any business owners that's thinking about going into business, consider Livernois. But don't think too long because there won't be any space available," says Al Bartell, owner of Times Square.