Yesterday we walked by the mangled remains of the old Kmart Department store, Gault Village Shopping Center. Mold infested and abandoned for the last twenty years, the building stood sentinel for a time of post war prosperity through UAW strength. Prior to the shopping center John Gault ran a farm, where famed country superstar Patsy Cline boarded as a tenant.)
The northern part of my township – the part of the township I inhabit – at one time flourished Gault Village housed several businesses that served both the Township and the City. But the Grove Road exits posed driving threats that provided the basis for the State’s claim to close them. The City and Township found some initial success in stalling the closings, but, ultimately, lost. Businesses suffered immediately.
Charles Pollow, Manager of the W. T. Grant Department Store (the predecessor to K-Mart) said (business) “has been lousy – it’s been very bad….I’d say we’re down 25 to 30 percent.”
Gault Village became a shell of its once robust self. The Township opted to pursue business growth at the South end of the Township at the Huron exit (which opened right after the State closed the Grove road exits).
Flaneuring through this area remains troubling. The topography is ugly, the historical reminders are sad. A now closed UAW legal office sits in the back of Gault Village, near the Dollar Store. Township residents forty years ago would have scoffed at the idea that the UAW union and the auto industry itself would have been cut out from everyday life here in Ypsilanti Township.
But here we are. (Special thanks to Adventurestew for the Ann Arbor News links.)