Romulus Downtown is Making an Impact
By Bethany Newton
Romulus has been established as a city since the 1800s and has evolved immensely over the years. Today, the primary focus is making the downtown area the ultimate place to visit for people all over the region (and beyond!) to visit again and again.
“We are trying to put a lot of focus right now onto our downtown. We’re doing some cool developer events, and we want to get some residential housing opportunities downtown,” said Jazmine Danci, the Director of Community Services at Romulus.
Although Romulus’ downtown area is smaller compared to other communities, Tim Keyes, the Director of Economic Development in Romulus, said that it does have the opportunity to be “quaint.”
Once upon a time, the downtown area had a few car dealerships, a movie theater, and some clothing stores. After the 60s though, Romulus’ downtown started to become vacant as bigger stores took over the shopping district.
Keyes mentioned that there are pros and cons that Romulus’ downtown is off the beaten path. It helps with the “quaint” aesthetic they are trying to produce, but at the same time, most people don’t know where it’s at. That can be a hard thing to advertise to a community.
The best way to bring in people though is to interest them with new businesses, and that’s exactly what Romulus is doing. One such business is a trendy microbrewery.
“Our intent is to push and encourage those kinds of businesses because they drive foot traffic,” Keyes said. “We’d like to see the restaurants, the grocery stores, the microbreweries, those kinds of things.”
There’s also a resale shop owned by a husband and wife that is apparently very popular in the area. Keyes’ mission currently is to try to find people who are interested in small markets that are off the beaten path. It’s not an easy mission, but he already has some business owners interested in taking the plunge.
“We have an individual who actually has the experience, the knowledge and the desire to [open a business],” Keyes said.
Nothing is ever easy it seems, but both Danci and Keyes said the way Romulus is growing to them is so encouraging to see.
Right now, about five million dollars has been put into updating the downtown area. Things like the streets and the landscape have all been updated. There’s also new housing developments in the works.
“We have a request for a proposal going for new housing in the area, and initially, we have a lot of interest from developers. We’ve also been working with the Michigan Land Bank who owns the parcels in the downtown area, and they’ve agreed to build homes on those parcels,” Keyes said.
Through these developments, Keyes believes that they will drive foot traffic to the area but also help with diversifying the housing stock.
Other than the Downtown, Romulus encompasses many areas. The Detroit Metro Airport is obviously a huge draw for not only the residents of Romulus but for the greater area and beyond. There’s also the Romulus Athletic Center that boasts some impressive statistics including 10,900 members and 280,000 gallons of water.
Romulus also hosts the historic Pumpkin Festival. “The Pumpkin Festival Committee was established in 1996 and the first Festival was held on September 19th and 20th, 1997,” according to the City of Romulus Website. The festival is a three-day event that starts with a parade and features everything you could possibly do with a pumpkin including a pumpkin rolling and a pumpkin-seed spitting contest. Really…it’s right on the website.
So although Romulus may have hit some hard times, the city is truly bouncing back in a great way. Through new infrastructure, diverse businesses and some classic events, Romulus seems like the place to be.