New Dearborn mayor envisions Fairlane Town Center site as 'heartbeat of our city'
Dearborn — Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud said Saturday he hopes to turn the Fairlane Town Center site into the "heartbeat of our city" and look at a plethora of possibilities such as affordable housing and green space to give the property a future boost.
The newly elected mayor said the mall, which will have new owners next month, "is not just an economic development project" and that he wants to brainstorm with business leaders to enhance the space of what is still a successful shopping center that is 85% occupied.
"It's a housing project. It's an affordable housing project. This is a public health project. It's an environmental sustainability project. This is a flood mitigation project," Hammoud said in a news conference with reporters in the parking lot near Macy's. "This is a parks and recreation project. We can reimagine this space to convene all the developers in the area that are coming in.
"We're hopeful that we can be the ones who pitch the collective vision of what we want to see out of midtown of our city, a vision that residents have been clamoring for," he added.
With the multitude of parking spaces around 110-acre site, there could be other uses, too, such as green space, Hammoud said.
The mall, which opened in March 1976, is 1.4 million square feet with 8,400 parking spaces and 125 stores.
The mayor said there is no specific time frame but wants to come up with ideas to then make a pitch to area developers to help formulate a plan. There are resources to be had, he said, from the city, county and state without going to taxpayers for a tax hike or floating bonds.
Hammoud's briefing before reporters at the mall was part of a Dearborn tour he and other city officials were doing to better "understand the city" that he grew up in.
The mayor said one of the reasons he's "hopeful for the potential vision for this part of town" is because he and the mall's general manager, Dan Fayad, grew up across the street from each other and remain close. He declined to identify the potential buyer but said that he and Fayad have had numerous conversations about how to handle the mall space.
Turning the parking lots into green space, Hammoud said, could help alleviate some of the flooding in the city, link walking and biking trails, and better connect west Dearborn to the east side.
"We're super excited about the opportunities that it can be and we're hopeful that we can be the conveners that make this more than just an idea but actually working towards making it a reality to all of our residents," he said.
Fayad said the mall area has great potential for the mayor's vision.
"Hopefully the mayor's team will come up with something good and I have trust in him," he said.