This story out of The Detroit Free Press this morning
ties in tangentially to the future of the Stampede Pontiac site across from the Armoury, and to other automotive dealership sites across the city that may open up as Chrysler and GM retrench over the next few months:
Closed dealerships likely to blight suburbs
Greg Gardner, The Detroit Free Press
Imagine Gratiot Avenue in Roseville or Grand River Avenue in Novi with every third dealership vacant.
No, we're not talking about some postapocalyptic fantasy. This could be the shape of suburbia 2012.
Shuttered showrooms could give way to skate parks, hockey rinks, another Wal-Mart or Costco. But don't get carried away. Underground gas tanks and other substances present an environmental headache for redevelopment.
Acres of concrete will discourage large community gardens from taking root.
"On the positive side, these parcels will be eligible for state and federal funds for cleanup," said Robin Boyle, head of Wayne State University's department of urban economic development. "The downside is: We will have a lot of it."
In the short term, idle dealerships will sit vacant, further depressing a metro Detroit commercial real estate market that has seen prices fall 50% from their peak, according to William Lichwalla, president and chief executive officer of Plante Moran CRESA, a Southfield real estate consultant.
Until consumer spending rebounds and stays strong, few dealerships will turn into big-box retail centers.
"A lot of them are going to sit for a long time," said Lichwalla. "And that means lost tax revenue."
Showrooms in inner suburban locations are better candidates for creative new uses because more people live nearby and traffic is heavier, said June Williamson, an architect and coauthor of "Retrofitting Suburbia."
The book highlights a former Cadillac dealership in Kendall, Fla., that was subdivided into seven smaller pieces for small shops and apartments.
"For an area like Detroit, there is also the opportunity to retrofit some of the car plants to manufacture passenger cars for light-rail systems," said Williamson. "Right now, those are made in Europe and Asia."
Let's face it, folks--Detroit's gonna have it tough, but we're gonna need to step back and figure out what to do with some of our dealership sites here in town, too. Co-Op can't build car washes on all
So the topic's open and in play, tovarishchi
. Debate and discuss.