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It's small biz versus gardeners in Detroit's Cass Corridor

Sarah Hulett
Michigan Radio
Canine to Five wants to expand into the lots adjacent to its current building, a site community gardeners have long beautified.

Liz Blondy opened Canine to Five – a dog daycare – on Cass Avenue six years ago. It’s a location few entrepreneurs have dared stake a claim, but Blondy has been successful. So successful, she wants to buy the two city-owned lots adjacent to her business, and expand. Trouble is, that’s the site of a beloved community garden that’s been there longer than her business.

"It’s a shame. I never thought I would be the person killing the garden – and I don’t think I am, and I do plan a larger, better garden on an alternate site."

Gardener Sue Weckerle says she’s disappointed the city council declined to put a hold on the sale so a compromise could be reached.

"We think it’s an extremely unfortunate situation for what is a movement in this city that has gained tremendous strength, tremendous positive attention for this city, and has been helping to revitalize neighborhoods. And it’s too bad that the city of Detroit has to act like every other city. We had an opportunity here to be different."

Council members ordered city planners to work with the gardeners to find an alternative site. But they said the city can’t afford to stand in the way of a thriving business.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Radio’s Director of Enterprise & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.