Lincoln Park Works to Revitalize Downtown Business District

February 27, 2015

By Adrienne Roberts

For the past 60 years, Lincoln Park has been gradually losing businesses. But now the city’s Downtown Development Authority is working to build the area back up to a vibrant business district. As part of WDET’s Crossing the Lines series, Adrienne Roberts looks into redevelopment efforts in downtown Lincoln Park.

On Fort Street, right in the heart of Lincoln Park’s business district is Arturo Briones’ grocery store, Los Arcos Market. He and his wife, Jessica, moved to Lincoln Park a few years ago. Then Jessica opened up her own business called Salon 10 Hair and Beauty. And now Jessica’s mother plans to open an ice cream shop right next to her daughter’s salon.

Arturo says he feels the community has been very receptive to his business.

“It’s been pretty good man. Especially here at the store because it’s been here for so long. So it’s just not the Mexican community it’s everybody in general that has to do with Lincoln Park. People that now live in Wyandotte, you know the downriver areas they come back and check out the store because they remember it when they were little kids.”

About 60 years ago, this would not have been an unusual scenario for Lincoln Park.

Jeff Day, the curator of the Lincoln Park Historical Museum says Fort Street was once filled with small, family-owned businesses.

“It was the business district for the Downriver area actually. People from Allen Park, Taylor, Wyandotte, Southgate — a lot of them would have shopped down here on Fort Street at that time.”

But Day says the city has changed.

“Some of those businesses have survived. And I think Lincoln Park is proud of that fact. But it’s also lost a lot of businesses, especially down here in the central part of Lincoln Park.”

Now, the city’s Downtown Development Authority is working to attract more businesses, such as restaurants, bookstores, and offices to the area.

DDA Director Madhu Oberoi says Lincoln Park is attracting a diverse group of business owners.

“And if you go down the street you’ll see a lot of Hispanic grocery stores, hair salons, restaurants that have come up in the last year or so. We’re working with them — we’re embracing them — I think they’re great business people. They’ve even purchased properties in our city so they’re living and working here so what could be better.”

Oberoi says when she came to Lincoln Park about three years agothere was a 27 percent vacancy rate for downtown businesses. Now that number is down to about 15 percent. But, Oberoi says the work doesn’t end with attracting new businesses. She says she wants Lincoln Park to be a desirable place to live, too.

“Our plan is actually to work and get more residential in the downtown, maybe even have some of our second floors developed into residential units. So we have mixed-used developments, we have housing, we have services — and that’s the only way a downtown can thrive.”

But for Jessica Briones, family was the reason she moved to Lincoln Park.

“I used to come out here every weekend because my mom stayed out here because my mom’s been out here for about eight years so we were out here every weekend with the family so I liked it.”

Arturo feels the move was a risk that has payed off.

“I mean it works for me, ya know? It works for me. We’ve been having good business here so we’re happy with that.”

Arturo and Jessica Briones both say they enjoy living and working in Lincoln Park — business is good and their families are close. They, like many people who live in the city, are noticing positive changes downtown that give them hope that their businesses will continue to thrive.