ROMULUS, Mich. – The City of Romulus is looking to bring new life to its historic downtown. Like many other communities, the COVID-19 pandemic hit businesses hard, forcing some to close their doors for good.
If you’ve driven the stretch of Goddard Road, you’ll notice more than a few of the storefronts seen in the video player above are empty.
The city’s Downtown Development Authority is working to change that by purchasing old buildings, fixing them up, and renting them out to small business owners looking to get bigger.
Romulus Mayor Robert McCraight says he sees opportunities where others see vacancies.
“The city made the investment about 15 years ago,” said McCraight. “To reinvest with all new infrastructure, brick pavement, and road work.”
The construction process slowed some businesses to a stop, then the pandemic hit, causing many others to shutter.
Now Upscale Warehouse Lounge Owners Carol and Vincent Lewis are preparing to re-open again.
“We were going to Detroit to get live entertainment, food, and drinks,” said Carol Lewis.
The formerly blighted building seen in the video player above was bought and renovated by the Lewis’ who will become what they were looking for, a place to eat, drink and enjoy live music at their establishment.
“When I first moved in, every storefront was built,” said Art Herber.
Just a few minutes down the road, Local 4 met Herber at the Artisan Reserve inc., which happens to be one of his favorite craft breweries.
“Through one economic downturn turnout to another, this has just started going away,” Herber said.
McCraighter sees the possibilities, and so does Brian Bush of Artisan Reserve Inc.
“Romulus is open for business,” Bush said. “The town is great; the community and the people are great.”
Bush and his mentor, Richard Kasaba, turned their passion for brewing into a brick and mortar business by leasing space from the city.
When he looks outside, Bush says he sees endless possibilities.
“The skies the limit,” Bush said.
City leaders are hoping to bring more incubator businesses like Artisan Reserve to town, and they’re finding federal dollars to help bring life and the people back.
“Anybody that has a great idea and a viable business solution that works and will pull people into our downtown, that’s who we’re looking to pull in,” McCraight said.
On June 3, The Upscale Warehouse Lounge will reopen at 5 p.m. with Sharon Love Jones and Friends performing at 9 p.m.
The Lewis’ are hoping even more small business owners will join them in providing spaces for residents to enjoy.
City leaders don’t have a date for the job fair just yet but say residents have expressed lots of interest in retail spaces and places to eat.