In Saline, major streetscape developments are on hold because of lack of state funding, but there's movement in individual storefronts. The long-vacant Kelly's and Saline Cafe restaurant space is being renovated into a new eatery. A manufacturing company is moving into the R & B Machine Tool building--and bringing twenty-five to thirty employees downtown--and perhaps twice that number eventually. And developer Bill Kinley, president of Phoenix Contractors, who owns three buildings in downtown Saline that house a mix of retail and restaurants, says he hasn't lost a single tenant during the recession. Yet, down the street, a massive vacant lot is an undeveloped eyesore.
While some projects and businesses stall downtown, others have stood the test of time. In Chelsea, one of those is Winans Jewelry, a century-old business on Main Street. As a high school and college student, Marie Krause worked there. Then she worked outside Chelsea for three decades--until she lost her job a couple years ago. When shop owner Rob Winans heard of her misfortune, he invited her back to work at the family's store.
Krause says working in the historic building again under the old tin ceiling is like coming full circle: "Our downtown is the heart of the community and it feels so good to be back."