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Farmington Hills is Changing

What's going on with Farmington Hills?  So many longstanding stores are closing and being replaced with what I call cheap stores.  For instance Five and Below, Torrid and now a I luv Beauty Supply store.  Really!  Also, now the Sprint store is closed.  The Rams Horn is closed now too. The Trader Joes is gone.   I'm shopping more and more in West Bloomfield and Novi.   
Rhonda Anderson September 04, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Yep! Other than Buschs and Target, pretty much all my shopping is done outside of Farmington (and I honestly prefer a different Target). I do hit up Aco Hardware now and again, and a few eateries, but that's about it. Really need to get some anchor stores back in town. Looking forward to Dress Barn reopening...I do like them!
Kelly Skender September 04, 2013 at 04:12 PM
I rarely shop in Farm Hills but I don't think Farmington has changed much in the last 5 years since I've lived here. The only thing I miss is Bagel Stop :(
Theresa B September 04, 2013 at 04:41 PM
I think you've answered your own question, arb0804. When you choose to shop in West Bloomfield and Novi you are making sure that more Farmington businesses will close. Shopping local isn't difficult and makes a huge difference in our community.
Angela September 05, 2013 at 02:19 AM
Theresa B., I've always shopped here ... Until recently. I just feel all of the stores are being replaced with, in my opinion, low-end stores. I mean, why do we have a huge storage facility on Orchard Lake? Really? I hope a Walmart isn't in the plans down the line. I love Farmington Hills and the services we have but the shopping and entertainment is awful. I wish it were moving in the direction like other surrounding cities like Birmingham, downtown Rochester, Royal Oak, even Northville but so far it's not. Heck, right now Hall Road in Macomb County is better in that aspect!
Darren Whittaker September 05, 2013 at 12:46 PM
Theresa B: Sorry, just plain wrong. People don't shop someplace because they "ought" to. They shop where they find what they need/want at convenient places with good prices. Offer this, and they might have a chance. Your contention is not a new one - many of the long-time Farmington merchants have said this before, one of them even saying that the reason they don't do better business is that folks don't support the downtown businesses. What a crock! Shoppers vote with their dollars. They'd shop there if they found what they wanted and didn't have to pay premium prices just for the 'privilege' of shopping there. While there are some good stores, many are not, and offer over-priced, old and tired merchandise, and dark, trashy-looking spaces. Unless and until downtown Farmington steps up to the challenge, and that means more than dressing it up with fancy sidewalks, ice rinks and do-dads, it will remain the way it's been for decades...lots and lots of empty spaces and very few reasons to make it a destination for a good many shoppers - they'll just go elsewhere.
stacy Wallach September 05, 2013 at 02:25 PM
I said it before and I will say it again, other than a few thriving businesses, downtown Farmington needs their elected City Council to take a close look at why there are so many empty store fronts. We have been in business for 27 years on Grand River in downtown Farmington (Clothes Encounters) a wonderful trendy store offering affordable prices and personal service. We are grateful for our loyal customers, but we need some company down there!! We know people that have wanted and want to open stores in downtown Farmington where the store fronts have been vacant for YEARS. They have called the landlords and leasing numbers posted in the windows at various locations and have never gotten a return phone call. The stores remain empty in the main strip mall where the post office is, and it seems the landlords could care less. Maybe its time City Council take a look at why their city is not a destination like neighboring cities and get after landlords to return interested parties phone calls who are trying to inquire about renting space to open new businesses. It seems some on City Council are more interested spending their time worrying about business that isn't theirs, than doing what they get paid to do. Glad to see successful Tres Amigos with lines out the door! Glad WE are celebrating 27 years in business! Glad Peterlins is expanding! Would really be glad to see more retail stores inhabiting the city, particularly more clothing stores. If City Council thinks new brick walkways and some bushes is the way to bring people downtown, maybe it's time to vote them out and bring in some new blood who will take the time to figure out how to make the city a successful, business filled area that draws people in so they do not have to go elsewhere for their wants and needs. We have kept our store up to date, bring in new fashions weekly, make sure the front of the store is kept clean, fresh flowers, and is welcoming. Our customers appreciate the time we take to make sure they have a gorgeous environment in which to shop. C'mon Council and landords, step up YOUR game and get things moving in the right direction!
Darren Whittaker September 05, 2013 at 09:16 PM
Amen, stacy, AMEN!! Your store is a testament to what the REAL solution to downtown Farmington's revival is. You and your husband deserve much credit for staying in downtown and succeeding, in spite of the failure of the political class in Farmington. Instead of knuckling down and doing the real work of attracting more and better businesses, the city council, DDA have simply generated more and more feel-good "efforts", along with spending millions of tax dollars in the hope that someone will believe their happy-speak. Too many with delusions of importance and fingers in the pie! While the wind whistles through empty stores, they seem to be doing quite alright for themselves. I wonder how much of the DDA's annual budget is spent on comfy salaries and perks? Bet it's more than half. It's about time that real, measurable metrics were used to evaluate these wool-puller's effectiveness, especially contrasted with dollars spent.
stacy Wallach September 05, 2013 at 10:25 PM
Thank you Darren, point of clarification, my husband is not the owner of the store. I am simply a proud employee of 17 years and the store is owned by Larry Sallen who has been in the same location on Grand River for 27 years. Larry has made this business into a thriving destination for many customers from many cities, and he is a well respected business man and cares about the downtown area very much. He wants more stores downtown and is dumbfounded as well, that landlords seem to not care about leasing empty space. I don't know much about the DDA and cannot comment on your post regarding them, but I do know that a certain member of City Council spends a lot of time bad mouthing FPS, a wonderful school district, (which he has no children in, and never has) instead of looking at the failures in his own back yard. Many parents in the district took note of him saying negative things about the school district recently as well as a few years back, and therefore have said NO to patronizing his business. Funny, the voters are also families of kids in the schools, and many like go out to eat as well!
Greg Cowley September 06, 2013 at 09:37 AM
Stacy, I am that Council person you are referring to - I will be happy to discuss these issues with you at anytime and correct your facts on our children who attended school and in what district. I am NOT anti teacher or district BUT the state of the downtown and the bond are connected, the alarming tax increases in Farmington are making the 27th Best City to Live in America (per Money Mag) too expensive for redevelopment AND young people to populate the schools. Finally, for every parent who has elected to dine some where else - I am seeing 2 that support our business. See you at the polls!
Sharon September 06, 2013 at 11:57 AM
Respectfully Mrs. Wallach, just as your husband certainly does not receive more than a token stipend for his work on the FPS BOE, Mr. Cowley also only receives a meager stipend for his work on the Farmington City Council of $1800 per year. You of all people posting on this site should know better than to play that card. Your husband and I certainly agree to disagree on many things, but I optimistically do believe we both wish future conversations to be elevated to a much better example for our students. Mr. Cowley is entitled to his opinions just like every other citizen. Repeatedly implying that he is not entitled to voice his taxation concerns because his family made an educational choice other than FPS is appalling. Please make sure you get the correct facts before you blame the messenger. Kimco is the realty company that has owned the downtown plaza since before the BonTon store was there. Kimco doesn’t care what happens to Farmington. It is just a write off to them. If you cared to take the time to discuss the situation with Mr. Cowley or any other council members I’m sure you would have the same conversation I have had numerous times. There is only so much a city can do if the owners are a national corporation that could not give a hoot, to put it nicely. But going after the Cowley family who has committed millions of dollars to renovate and expand his father’s legacy and trying to get people to shun their restaurant is sad. It is certainly as unfair of you to go after them personally as it would be for me to go after your family or the store you have worked at for so long because I disagree with what your husband says publically at the board meetings. I am also very happy for Zach Peterlin having known him for a long time. His years of chef experience at Cowley’s have served him well and his carrot cake is to die for. I for one can enjoy both restaurants without bringing their livelihoods’ into the fray but leasing a restaurant space is entirely different than owning the building. Paying the extremely high business taxes is a huge deterrent to new businesses coming to this town and FPS also owns one of the largest vacant properties in downtown. If you feel so strongly about our downtown I’m sure your input would be welcomed at the visioning meetings. One last thing, I would ask you to please remember that the Cowley family supports our schools too. Just like today when they are supporting Longacre School’s PTA by donating 10% of families total bills back to the PTA as they celebrate the start of a new school year together. We can all agree to disagree politely without making the November bond vote once again about personal attacks.
stacy Wallach September 06, 2013 at 02:24 PM
WHOAAAA Mrs. Bissell (Sharon) play what card? If you read my post carefully, I was simply saying a City Council person should take care of business in his own backyard. Let me explain, as you are so busy defending Greg Cowley, you have clearly missed my point. The downtown area is dead. There are a few thriving businesses and we are grateful to be one of them, and I am most grateful Mr. Cowley is another and enjoying double the business as he said as of recent. Businesses cannot be staying away from inhabiting current empty store fronts (because of taxes) when the persepctive occupants do not get a return phone call when messages are left time and time again. The strip mall by the post office has been empty for years, and yet when the numbers on the windows are called, there is no response. THIS IS A PROBLEM. If you think I was playing a paycheck card you are sadly mistaken. My husband makes $30.00 a meeting. I really don't care what Mr. Cowley makes, I was simply suggesting he pay attention to the vacancies and try and get the city going. (which is one of the reasons he gets paid, to take care of the city) Surely you understand that.You made a statement Sharon, "paying the extremely high business taxes is a huge deterrent to new businesses coming to this town..." We DO NOT PAY HUGE BUSINESS TAXES Sharon, it is on par with every other city. There is nothing current store owners and tax payers want more than a bustling downtown area. I have never asked anyone to shun his restaurant for goodness sake..you have a way of twisting words for your own agenda. I have enjoyed his burgers there for years FYI. I did simply state a fact that parents have shared with me. As far as Mr. Cowley and where his kids have or have not attended. school... I HUMBLY APOLOGIZE Mr. Cowley, as I was informed by one of your neighbors that your kids have attended private parochial schools. If in fact that is incorrect, please for the record tell us what schools in FPS they had the pleasure of attending. I also invite you to take a few walk throughs in our facilities, as it may change your mind as to the bond issue. Surely Sharon, you don't think that neighboring downtowns, Milford, Northville, Birmingham, etc are paying less business taxes than Farmington do you? Yet they are thriving with many shops. THE TAXES ARE NOT THE ISSUE, not wanting to be a responsible landlord and get these places rented out is. I believe City Council can intervene. If I am wrong so be it, but I also have the right to express my opinion, and I believe Mr. Cowley, an elected official and I can have a reasonable dialogue. You are a great defender of his, but my bottom line issue has still not been answered by him. WHY IS THE DOWNTOWN NOT GROWING AND THRIVING? BTW..I never accused Mr. Cowley of being anti-teacher. Seriously, can anyone just stick to the facts and not fabricate their own? Mr. Cowley, I am at work every week just down the sidewalk from you, please feel free to stop in and we can chat. I have always believed reasonable people can differ, maybe you can explain a few things to me and help me to understand a few questions that are on community members minds who visit our store as well. If you do choose to come down, please bring me a plain burger with light ketchup! (hold the fries)
stacy Wallach September 06, 2013 at 02:41 PM
And may I apologize for my typos and spelling of the word prospective..with regard to new businesses coming into the area. Next time I will proofread before sending!
Darren Whittaker September 06, 2013 at 09:27 PM
While Mr. Cowley is to be commended for his support of the downtown Farmington area over the years, his tired, incessant rant about taxes grows old. It is his version of a red herring - it distracts from the real issues that plague this town, in an effort to avoid having to address those issues and do something effective about them. As Ms. Wallach pointed out, Farmington's tax burden is quite similar to many surrounding communities, in fact lower than some. What is done with that money is the real issue. The streetscape and other projects past, present and planned were and are billed as yet another boost to Farmington's palatability to investors and businesspeople. Well, big money spent in lean times needs to pay off, sooner rather than later, otherwise these things could be postponed to times when things are more flush. So far, they have not made much of a dent in the real problems. Maybe 10 years from now...? Meanwhile, these projects and their various stages of planning have certainly been profitable to a handful of well-connected locals, haven't they? Collateral benefits, I suppose.
Sharon September 07, 2013 at 12:26 AM
Given the tragedy that I witnessed this evening, I will stand by my hope that this and future conversations will be elevated to a much less personal and higher level. I am thankful that no one was injured and that the fire and public safety departments from our two fine cities showed what true cooperation and selflessness is really about. The public safety portion of the 52.5 mills that Farmington's commercial properties pay certainly paid off tonight for all of the Grand River businesses that were preserved. I will simply be saying lots of prayers for the Cowley family tonight and for all of the people that put themselves in danger to save our downtown.
Darren Whittaker September 07, 2013 at 06:10 PM
"Tragedy"?? It was a kitchen fire, injured no one and by news accounts, did very little damage to the building as a whole. Dramatic, much?
Sharon September 08, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Wow that's cold Mr. Whittaker. I'm glad at the moment I have no idea who you are and that most people in Farmington have much more compassion. The Cowley family has lost two parents and now a fire in the family business, that to me deserves some empathy. Thankfully the structural damage seems to be minimal but that does not mean "little damage". Once again, let's raise this to a much higher level.
Michael September 09, 2013 at 10:36 AM
Can I comment on the entire premise of this argument? The downtown area is not dead. It's sad to see the empty spaces in the downtown shopping center but talk to the landlord about that. From what I understand, they are not offering attractive rent options. And this is a symptom of the current economy, not just an issue with downtown Farmington. Look at any strip mall and you will find lower end stores and empty spaces. As far as the businesses, try to park downtown on weekends and you'll see that the area is not dead. Mr. Cowley's restaurant and bar does well and the new Mexican restaurant, Les Tres Amigos has been packed each time we've gone. The restaurants all seem to be doing good business. Starbucks is always busy. My family loves going downtown and we solicit these businesses as well as Ariel Automotive, TJ Maxx, Joe's Headquarters and others. My family doctor is there as well. Lets not over dramatize or politicize the situation.
Gregory Keller September 09, 2013 at 10:45 AM
I'd have to agree with mr Cowley that taxes are way to high in Farmington and Hills. When I compare my taxes to my fathers in similar neighborhood my taxes are 4 times his in Indianapolis suburb. Schools are excellent there too

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