You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 5:45 a.m.

Top 5 signs that Saline's downtown is gaining momentum

By Nathan Bomey

Saline's downtown area, like all small-town business districts, has been forced to fight big-box retail and parking problems.

But the Saline downtown is emerging from the economic downturn with momentum. Here are Business Review's Top 5 positive signs for Saline's downtown.

1. The Walmart that opened in October a mile east on Michigan Avenue in Pittsfield Township has had no noticeable effect on Saline’s downtown. The Walmart expects to collect $100 million in annual revenue, but downtown doesn't generally compete for the same business. Predictions that the Walmart would doom Saline's downtown now seem silly.

Kelly's and Saline Cafe.JPG

The space housing the former Kelly's and Saline Cafe restaurant and bar will be revived as a new, renamed Italian eatery later this year.

Lon Horwedel |

2. The long-vacant Kelly’s restaurant is getting a new tenant. The owners of Mickey’s Dairy Twist are leading a family group that plans to launch a family-friendly Italian eatery there after purchasing the property last week.

3. The ownership group that controls the largely vacant former R&B Machine Tool Co. building on Michigan Avenue is close to a deal to sell the 62,000-square-foot facility. A local manufacturing company wants to launch an expansion in the facility - a move that could generate more foot traffic for downtown.

4. The M&D auto shop on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Harris Street has new owners, according to the Saline Reporter, and they plan to renovate the tattered structure.

5. The Saline ACH plant is back to full capacity with 2,000 workers. The success of the plant, albeit not downtown, is sure to trickle down and benefit downtown restaurants and coffee shops.

Contact’s Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or or follow him on Twitter. You can also subscribe to Business Review's weekly e-newsletter or the upcoming breaking business news e-newsletter.



Sat, Jul 17, 2010 : 5:10 p.m.

Dparker7, lol wow you must be a real financial genius if you have a combined income of $450K and only have a little over a million in worth. You remind me of someone who has to let everyone know exactly what they are worth every chance you get. My husband and myself make much more that you, yet we drive American cars, nothing fancy, just everyday cars. We do have many classic cars also American. We shop anywhere we want, Walmart, Hillers, County Market or even Meijer or Kroger. We love sales and will buy food we feel is the best deal and nutrious. Calm down, have a glass of ice tea, and think about the next purchase you can make that will make all your doctor and lawyer neighbors just pea green with envy.


Tue, Apr 27, 2010 : 5:44 p.m.

@Chris: So you classify me and my family as working poor? My wife and I bring in a combined net income of over $450,000 a year. Believe me, that's not working poor. My neighbors who are lawyers and doctors shop at Walmart. Are they the working poor? Sure the majority of the people who shop out at the Ypsi Walmart are the working poor, but the majority of the people who shop at the Pittsfield Walmart are not part of the working poor. Very few people in Saline fall into the working poor; and I highly doubt that the actual working poor out in Ypsi and A2 are coming into saline to shop at our Walmart when there is one closer to them. And how would you know what most millionaires drive Chris? I can tell you that I have a net worth of over a million dollars (not trying to brag, just making a point) and I don't drive a junker. I drive a BMW 7 series, my wife drives a Audi A8, both of which are not junkers. Next time you go to Walmart, look around and see how many of the women shopping there are walking around with designer purses that cost several hundred dollars. I will admit that few working poor in saline do go and shop at Walmart, but the majority of the people there are middle to upper-middle class. I have a feeling that you were one of those people that protested "big bad Walmart" coming to our area. Walmart has done nothing to hurt our area, it has helped it IMO. I have no qualms about Walmart driving business away from the likes of Bush's. I have not found anything (except for produce) that was cheaper at Bush's than at Walmart' in fact the majority of things are much cheaper at Walmart. Bush's deserves what is happening to them, they have marked up their prices for years, and are finally paying for it. Bush's parking lot isn't nearly as full as it once was, and that IMO is a good thing. Let's also keep in mind, that Walmart is already reinvesting in our community, more than Bush's ever has. I only go to Bush's for produce, and now that the farmers' markets are beginning to open up again, I will be going there for my produce instead. Regarding the myth about the middle class/upper-middle class shopping in downtown Saline: I call BS on that. No one shops in downtown Saline, because there is nothing in downtown Saline. There are two banks, three or four restaurants, Little Caesars does not count as a restaurant (I have gotten food poisoning from Mac's and The Breccon Grill), and a few overpriced shops that sell knick knacks, plus a bike shop. What is there in downtown Saline? Can anyone honestly say that they can shop for anything they need in downtown Saline? You are able to get something to eat without risking calling in sick to work in downtown A2, and you can actually shop down there. Saline always has been, and always will be in the shadow of A2, and rightfully so. The only thing that keeps people who aren't retired in Saline, IMO, are the schools; and with the way Scot Graden and the school board have been running them into the ground lately, they won't even be a viable excuse to stay in Saline.


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 4:21 p.m.

I am ecstatic that Saline is gaining momentum. As a young new resident, I cannot wait for Saline to be booming like other small towns in the area. The schools are excellent (so I've heard) and the downtown is soon to be booming. Just wished there was more things to do in downtown Saline past 10 pm. I wish it had more things to do like downtown Allen Park - a comic book store, a movie theater (second run like Briarwood), a place where people can go dancing, more food shops - maybe a Panera or Olga's, etc. Saline has so much potential!


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 1:25 p.m.

Nathan--Thanks for helping to point out the positive things happening in Saline. Don't forget 212 Art Center. It had a very well-attended Art opening this weekend and is bringing people downtown for other reasons--to get together, socialize and create! It is a great town and I am happy to be a part of it. I am so tired of angry people who comment on every article with the intent to politicize and blame--even positive articles like this one. Whining and blaming doesn't solve problems. Our town needs your support, your critique and your productive conversations. This forum is an opportunity to have public dialog and make constructive comments that help our community move forward.


Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 8:54 a.m.

WalMart is for the working poor. Just because you see fancy cars doesn't mean jack. Don't forget, most millionaires drive junkers.

Basic Bob

Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 8:44 p.m.

@Happy Fun Ball, "Pittsfield may be improving it's Pro-business stand as well.... The Left has always hated business and blocked development at every turn for one reason or another." I agree, but I would reserve judgment on whether Pittsfield is improving. Our elected township board ran on the anti-Walmart plank after the recall of the supervisor, clerk, and treasurer failed. Since then there hasn't been anything going on to judge them by.


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 1:52 p.m.

@CosmicHam, I was not trying to imply that Saline has ever tried or should try to be like A2. I have lived in the Saline School District since 1972, graduated from Saline in 77. Saline's downtown has been no where near as successful as Chelsea's downtown yet Saline is larger. I believe part of that reason is Saline is so close to A2 that it has to fight A2 for the consumers entertainment dollars. As well, Saline has had a lot of turnover regards to retailers over the years. Remember Bid Daddy's Den? That became Kelly's which closed about 7 years ago. Only Mac's and Brecon Grille have had any staying power, oops Dan's Tavern as well. @Chris, Wal Mart is not for the working poor only. I shop there regularly and the parking lot is full of newer cars in the 30 grand plus range. Don't see too many poor folks driving Ford Flex's, Cadillac CTS's etc. Country Market should see their revenue increase as they now have a liquor license. Walmart and Busch's can only sell beer and wine.


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 12:21 p.m.

What would really be a huge boost and draw to Saline is a venue for the teens in the area. Games, dancing, cool hangout something along those lines. Just about the only place I see older teens/college students hanging out is the Flaming Shish to smoke the Hookah pipe.


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 11:48 a.m.

Chris: Check out WalMart it is not just "poor" people shopping there. I have encountered many friends and neighbors there. Ms Judge: WalMart will not take down Country Market....Busch's will. WalMart has subpar produce and meat and the word is getting out. WalMart is a drop in to pick up a few items place and is empty most of the time.


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

The success in revitalization of downtown will be in the continuing diversification of the businesses and property owners. A truly supportive council will encourage the small business owners and quit bending over backwards for the one or two investors with a lot of show but little real investment in the community.

David Rhoads

Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 10:17 a.m.

Saline's downtown is moving forward. There are several other businesses currently looking to relocate and/or expand into Saline in addition to those listed above. Also, one of the current businesses, Spotted Dog Winery, has grown so much that they are purchasing another building for their wine production. The existing space will be used to expand their retail and wine tasting area. Congratulations to John and family. This growth is being fueled by investors who have enough vision to see Saline's future and who recognize the supportive city government and residents. Saline is a community which honors it's history but welcomes it's future.

Pat Ivey

Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 10:09 a.m.

Downtown Saline is on the rebound. I think we will see several more signs of this resurgence this year. As for the competition among grocery stores, I think each has carved out its niche in the market in terms of selection and value. I shop at each one for different reasons. People would come to shop and dine in downtown Saline more often if we can make it friendlier for non-motorized traffic.


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 8:22 a.m.

Walmart is for the working poor, while downtown Saline appeals to the middle and upper classes of society. Great news is always welcomed.


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 7:25 a.m.

Good to hear all these great things happening in Saline

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 7:17 a.m.

Saline is much better at supporting business than other nearby communities. Pittsfield may be improving it's Pro-business stand as well.. And please note - the Government was not the 'cause' of any of this growth - it was investors, small and large, who are taking chances on investing in a community with their own money. Those dollars could go anywhere - into bonds, stocks, land holding, even CD's - but these investors are betting on the Saline area as a better bet for success. The Left has always hated business and blocked development at every turn for one reason or another. But it is the free market where jobs and personal growth (like resume building) really come from. (btw County Market is far better than Walmart) :)


Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 7:07 a.m.

Downtown Saline has always played second fiddle to Ann Arbor in it's ability to attracting residents dollars. Saline has been no where near as successful as Chelsea with their downtown, perhaps that is due to Saline being a bit closer to A2 than Chelsea. No question that Wal-Mart has taken busieness from other retailers and I say "so what". They save me money and with the paycut I have taken at work, I need to find savings anywhere I can. I still shop more at Meijer than Wal-Mart but things like softener salt, prescriptions ( 4 bucks) and other staples are not to be found cheaper anywhere. Wal-Mart has helped Saline draw traffic and my guess is it has helped other retailers more than it has hurt.

Kristin Judge

Sun, Apr 18, 2010 : 6:44 a.m.

This is great news for our community, but I respectfully disagree with your first point. The concern for loss of business was never the "downtown" area. Residents' concerns over the Walmart as it pertained to other businesses had to do with our locally owned grocery, hardware, pet supply, landscape, flower stores etc.. There was an article recently that stated the Country Market had seen a 10 percent decrease in sales since Walmart opened. How will it effect our community if that large anchor store closes?