The Eight Mile Road Dilemma

Mode Shift talked to Tami Salisbury, executive director of Eight Mile Boulevard Association, last June about what the association is doing to improve quality of life along one of our region’s most infamous streets. This is part three of a three-story series on Eight Mile Road and the 8MBA.

DETROIT—One of the goals of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association is to serve as a liaison between existing businesses and local communities, which makes sense when trying to create a healthy urban-suburban corridor where everyone can thrive.

But where that equation gets dicey is when the business is not favored by local residents. A late-night club, used car lot, late-night liquor store, or even a fast food drive-thru can mean problems for adjacent neighbors.

When the business involves adult entertainment, the issue is magnified even more. Such is the case along certain stretches of Eight Mile Road in Detroit where the adult club industry is already established.

“If you go to where the adult clubs are, there is a lot of abandonment that has occurred around these establishments,” says Tami Salisbury, executive director of 8MBA. “It’s a no-brainer: they’re late hours, and if you work during the day you don’t want to hear the pounding music right next to your home.”

According to Salisbury, to help stem the abandonment tide, work is being done to prevent further development of adult clubs along Eight Mile Road.

Salisbury has worked with local community development corporations and local home owners associations to discourage certain usage along the road and to monitor offensive or unnecessary signage.

They’ve convinced Detroit City Council to designate Eight Mile Road an “overlay,” which means there can be no new adult clubs built on Eight Mile.

“That’s a win,” says Salisbury.

The state and the city are closely monitoring the adult establishments and their activities, especially after legal operating hours and in the neighborhoods around the clubs.

A club was closed in 2011 for issues with a liquor license, demonstrating some vigilance on behalf of local and state monitoring authorities.

Most of 8MBA’s concern rests on how the adult clubs impact neighborhood health.

“If I had a child and lived immediately adjacent to those establishments, I wouldn’t want to live there very long,” says Salisbury.

Salisbury would like to see a 1,000-foot buffer between the clubs and the residences and is encouraging the city to require pocket parks around the clubs.

Pocket parks are a small outdoor spaces often located in urban areas to provide greenery; they are sometimes created to meet a public space requirement around large building projects.

The development of pocket parks would require the city or the clubs to acquire all the homes adjacent to the adult clubs to create the pocket parks or another buffer between the residential community and the clubs.

“A lot of them [the adult clubs] have recently gone through renovations, and that’s when you could ask for those types of things,” says Salisbury. The argument, of course, is that the creation of pocket parks is cost prohibitive.

“These establishments are making large amounts of money, so I think this is doable,” says Salisbury. “If you want to be in this community, you should be a good community partner whatever your industry is and want to do what’s best for your local community.”

Salisbury adds: “And if that’s not your objective, then maybe find somewhere else to do business.”

 

Do you think designating 8 Mile as an overlay is good for the economy? What about requiring buffer zones around such businesses? Share your thougths in the comments below.

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