District 12: A Match on Main
While longtime residents have fond memories of the northeast corner of Mason and Michigan Avenue, they certainly will not recognize it now with the transformation that has occurred this past year. Property owner Ali Nasser, a benefactor of the Open Door Dearborn grant program, built a four-story mixed-use development bringing a new era and businesses to the former Howell’s Bar & Grill site that burned down in 2014 and Bailey’s Bar & Grill that closed in 2020 due to COVID.
It takes connections to grow a business. Mr. Nasser was looking for a new tenant to anchor its corner location on Michigan and Mason while Nasser Beydoun was looking to relocate from his existing restaurant for more dining space and a visible corner. In working with the WDDDA Executive Management team, Nasser and Beydoun partnered together and applied under separate applications for the Open Door Dearborn grant program who were awarded $20,000 ($10,000 each) from the program for Level I and Level III grants. The $2,500 Level I grant was used for the District 12 new business sign and $17,500 Level III was used for the building facade and interior renovation improvements. A few months later, two more businesses were secured, Amazing Subs and Galata Sweets, who both also received Open Door Dearborn grants from the WDDDA for another $20,000.
The resources didn’t stop there either. The State of Michigan announced a new small business support program called Match on Main (MOM) Program through the MEDC in February 2022 targeted at interior improvements and outdoor seating patios to address COVID issues. District 12 was in the middle of interior construction as the WDDDA Executive Management Team once again identified the business as an eligible project. In just over 30 days the business was awarded another $25,000 from the MEDC MOM grant.
The project renovations began in early 2021 which included a contemporary facade with new brickwork and windows, while District 12 added a unique dining area that expands to the sidewalk for additional outdoor seating with a total investment of $1,055,000 for the building structure renovations, interior construction and new signage. In total, the businesses and property owner were able to leverage over $65,000 from public investments to ensure quality design and construction. The WDDDA also intends to either lease one of its outdoor dining platforms or extend the sidewalk area with its future South Connector streetscape project to provide additional outdoor seating space for District 12.