City to provide forgivable loans to struggling Avenue of Fashion businesses

Businesses on the Avenue of Fashion in Detroit fighting to survive as they say bulldozers, broken concrete and unpaved roads have impeded their space during this construction project which started in May.

"It's totally empty. There is no access to anybody, even for me, to come to my store," said Prisca Onyejiaka. "You guys have ruined a lot of lives."


Protestors gathered to fight on behalf of the businesses joining forces Thursday, announcing a rally next week to demand grant money for sustaining these businesses. Organizers also questioned the motives of the beautification project. 

"Is this a flush the business out? Flush the African Americans out of this community project?" said Rev. Charles Williams.

City leaders were also out on Thursday spreading the word that an informational session will take place next week regarding grant money for businesses in need of financial help.

"We're going to be providing a loan and grant combination project, a forgivable loan that gives these folks the capital they need," said Arthur Jemison with the City of Detroit.

That's not the only way these business can get financial support. Next week, Livernois SOUP will also take place to allow the business to compete for money.

"Next Thursday night, there is going to be a special Livernois SOUP event, where we're going to be making available $10,000 in prizes for people who compete. Everyone who competes gets a prize," he said. 

City leaders say they hear the frustration, but what's happening on The Avenue of Fashion is all about progress.

"You're going to see full range of new cross walks, new street lights ... widened sidewalks," Jemison said.

Some business owners say they're OK with a little disruption right now if it leads to a brighter future for this business district, and they're grateful for the help of a loan to get them through the construction period.