Talking About Safety in Birmingham: 'Nightclubs Aren't Appropriate,' Landlord Ted Fuller Says

Separately, realtor cites possible future 'concern in attracting buyers' due to negative news.

This story is part of a series on downtown Birmingham that explores issues raised by recent incidents, as well as the city's response to them.

Views of downtown safety can depend on who's asked — resident or retailer, club owner or commissioner, retiree or young professional. This installment of a Patch series on downtown safety includes a business leader standing in two camps: as a commercial landlord and downtown resident.

Ted Fuller, who manages one million square feet of rental property he owns in 21 buildings in Birmingham, lives on Pierce Street with his wife, Dulcie. His office at Fuller Central Park Properties is a few blocks away in the on Peabody Street.

Fuller is fired up about several police incidents downtown and met separately with City Manager Bob Bruner, Police Chief Don Studt and most city commissioners about what he calls "inappropriate behavior at 2 o'clock in the morning in a residential community."  

He's among those contacted for a sense of community sentiments about a series of scares:

  • .
  • .
  • A credit card theft April 8 at , followed by .
  • .

Patch asked dozens of people in Birmingham to contribute to this weeklong series on public safety. In her response below, realtor Cathy Tishhouse questions a new police order barring valet parking service after midnight, which she feels could jeopardize "the people not causing problems."      

Ted Fuller: 'Take their mischief someplace else'

Fuller, interviewed Monday, is Birmingham's largest commercial landlord. Among his properties are the , the McCann Erickson office block, the building on East Brown as well as residential sites downtown.  

We've got to focus on the problems at hand and the one that's most serious is certainly . They have not shown themselves to be good corporate citizens. They don't appear to want to change their position on what they're doing. They don't seem to care.

They came to the city as a Mexican restaurant with a sports bar, and that's what I understand was approved. Now maybe that wasn't working for them and it morphed into a nightclub.

Well, nightclubs aren't appropriate for downtown Birmingham. I don't think they fit with the fabric of our community.

came to our community as an Asian restaurant and they morphed into a nightclub too. is the only one that was approved as a nightclub.

If these venues continue to bring problems to the community, they should be asked to take their mischief someplace else. They might be welcomed in other communities, but here this doesn't fit with a residential community like we are.

It's not just alcohol that's the problem — it's the nature of the business that they conduct. We have a lot of new bistros in town and they don't represent any problem whatsoever to the community while providing a service to our residents.

I think competition is great, but nightclubs just don't fit in my opinion. I know they've made a large investment, but that's no reason to be a lousy corporate citizen. That doesn't give them any special rights.

Their significant investment in the community was made under the assumption that it was going to be a restaurant and a sports bar. And this is not a sports bar. They need to change or move out, move on. Take the mischief and go someplace else.

What you have many fights, stabbings and shootings in your community I think it affects the image of our town. If it were to escalate, the damage that could be done to the charm of Birmingham could take generations to fix.

We do have a reputation of being a great, walkable, small community and we don’t want to lose that. We need to promote activities that are conducive to that type of family atmosphere.  

The community needs to get involved and express opinions on this.  

Cathy Tishhouse: Incidents 'could affect property values'

Tishhouse, a lifelong Michiganian, has been a realtor with in Birmingham since 2004.

Recent incidents at (three) local nightspots could affect the appeal of living in Birmingham if (the situation) were to escalate. It could become a bigger concern in attracting buyers, and could affect property values.

As it is now, I don't think that is the case. We're also seeing news about an increase in some incidents in Royal Oak that are worrisome.  

While I don’t have a solution, I don’t think closing valet (parking) at earlier hours will make a significant difference. I don’t think the clientele causing these disturbances would be deterred because of lack of valet service.

I would be more comfortable staying just inside a restaurant/lounge and having someone retrieve my car rather than roaming the streets to find it – especially if I felt things were rowdy that night or if I were familiar with the recent incidents. Valet is valuable for the people not causing problems.

About the Series

Residents, business owners and visitors to Birmingham have an interest in feeling safe in the city. This Patch series explores the voices of those who live, work and run the city of Birmingham. We hope it fosters a dialogue that illustrates issues and explores possible solutions.




A dialogue cannot be one-sided. Please add your thoughts below or contact editor Laura Houser at laura.houser@patch.com, or call her at 248-534-9780, if you would like to contribute to this series.

Tom April 25, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Ted Fuller makes a lot of great points but he shouldnt throw rocks at a glass house. Cafe Via (which Ted Fuller owns), Hamilton Room, Chen Chow, and South had assault incidents in their restaurant/bars last year. Whats wrong with those 4 being together? Cafe Via is the only one that closes before midnight and doesnt have dancing. So problems can happen anywhere and at anytime. Its funny how Ted never mentions this. Also if you look under mlcc violations with State.....Cafe Via has one.....they never trained their staffed on alcohol before a set date. Which is minor, but still a viloation or warning.
Tom April 25, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Also didnt Ted Fuller own the properties that midtown cafe and The Tap Room were in? I think he might have owned them but maybe not....but defintaley owned the property. The Tap room was known as the place you could get a drink before you ever turned 21. In the days they were busy in the mid-90s....talk about overcrowding and fights. Ted is a great guy but he shouldnt be talking about other places when he has had problems also.
Katie Ester April 25, 2012 at 02:34 PM
I couldn't agree with Mr. Fuller more. Nightclubs are not appropriate for uptown Birmingham. If Birmingham wants to continue to tout itself as a residential, family-friendly, upscale, community-driven, merchant-friendly, walkable and safe downtown, then we need to be more selective in choosing what establishments operate there. Mr. Fuller's point about establishments being good corporate citizens is an important one. South and the Hamilton Room have proven their inability to fit into the intended culture of uptown Birmingham.
Angelina Smith April 25, 2012 at 02:40 PM
We live in Birmingham and stopped going downtown with my family on thethe weekends just because I don't feel very safe to walk on the streets. So as a lot of my neighbors. That needs to stop! Please let's do something about it!
Angelina Smith April 25, 2012 at 02:47 PM
By the way, yes we totally agree with Mr.Fuller!
Tom April 25, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Karen you are correct, but why does the city keep approving places like this in birmingham?? They just approved 4 bars, a bowling alley, and video games in the basement of the palladium......what kind of crowd does the city expect to go there? We already have a teenager problem hanging out in the city and now they approve a place that has 4 bars in it and a bowling alley??? That just doesnt make sense. The city officials keep on doing this because they dont know how to fill up these spaces in birmingham. Its a big downtown to only have small bistros and retail shops that cant survive. But we keep building big buildings instead of tearing some down. We have 2 empty lots at the corner of maple and woodward, empty lot south of peabodys restaurant, a empty lot across from the new hortons. They are going to build buildings there once the economy comes around and who is going fill up these places?? The new building and its beautiful that was built 2 years ago where zazios is..... still only has 3 tennants. Birmingham is too big of a downtown for 20,000 residents that wants that hometwon feel. Stop approving big restaurants and big buildings. This is why birmingham has these problems and Grosse Pointe doesnt.
Alan Stamm April 25, 2012 at 03:25 PM
To clarify a couple of points, Tom: The Greenleaf Trust Building that includes Zazios has leased all 27,000 square feet of office space at above-market rates ($36/square foot), according to Crain's Detroit Business (9/11/11) -- though not all residential lofts. In a March 18 Crain's report, real estate writer Daniel Duggan quotes a commercial property investor as saying "Birmingham land has more value than anyplace else in metro Detroit." Do you suggest the Planning Commission and City Commission manage growth by not approving proposals that conform with zoning code size limits and land use regulations? On what grounds? Market forces aren't always spot-on, but unduly restricting economic development seems risky to me. Lastly, questions to Ted Fuller didn't include any about Cafe Via, which isn't a nightclub with an atypical rate of incidents requiring police involvement. You may feel we should have asked, but it's unfair to claim "it's funny how Ted never mentions this." What seems amusing, actually, is that this is the second time since April 7 that you introduce Cafe Via into a discussion about nightclubs.
Tom April 25, 2012 at 03:46 PM
No Im not Alan....You are correct. I didnt realize the Greenleaf trust was full because walking by it....it looks empty. I think they should approve all these places and buildings.....but who is going to fill them?? All im saying we have a big downtown for only 20,000 residents. To survive we need restaurants, big retail names(but they all moved out and went to somerset). I just think a lot people that live in birmingham dont realize that a lot of the spaces will be empty if we kick out all the places that we dont agree with. We have a downtown and grosse pointe doesnt.....so we have to think different and have places that might bring in a different crowd. Its not a little downtown and it never has been. Little downtowns dont have big parking structures and huge movie theatres. And yes Alan I would have asked him about his incident at Cafe Via. Because a guy cheats on wife once and another guy cheats on his wife 3 times doesnt make the guy that did it once any better in my opinion.
Tom April 25, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Also Alan, I love cafe via....Its a great spot and has great food. I just think you should do an interview with 220 owners or Dick Odows.....places that has entertainment and hasnt had assaults.
Tom April 25, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Im just tired of places getting blamed for the problems that individuals cause. Old Woordward grill was a great place and packed for the first 2 years(also the first non-smoking bar in the area back then) then they had some problems and started to slow down and sold it to bad frog(bad idea). I loved going to the tap room and midtwon cafe places that are also gone. I thought the Blue Martini and City Celler was awesome for the city and brought people back....I didnt hang out there much but there problems never bothered me. It seems that nothing ever lasts in Birmingham like in Royal Oak. Also that place on woodward by 14 mile...had the bad parking lot..something cafe. That place was rocking but the never was given a chance. I like birmingham for what it is...If I want a good meal and a cozy atmosphere I will go to Cafe Via or Streetside. If I want to watch sports and hang on the patio I will go to South, If I want to hang with friends and see people from high school...I will go to Dick ODows. If I want to hang out at the bar and belly up...I like 220. If I want to be a clubber and dance I like the hamilton room(although Im too old for that now). I like the asian food at chen chow. I like steaks at camerons and flemings. Love sitting in the mitchells bar area and getting apps and drinking a draft. Birmingham has everything for me and I will take the good with the bad.
Alan Stamm April 25, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Evocative set of name-checks as you lead us on a Birmingham Dream Cruise down memory lane, Tom! Perhaps the only fondly missed touchstones you skipped are Yvonne Gill's Tweeny's and Midtown Cafe (site of my Wedding Day toasts in '81 with 2 friends who witnessed our 48th District Court mini-ceremony in B'field Hills). I recall Avenue Diner as one sign on that parking-impaired spot south of 14 Mile, which I believe did have the name cafe before or after. But hey, this is a progressive 'burb where we also can look forward: Stay tuned for Hyde Park Steakhouse, currently renovating the prime spot Forte filled from 1995 'til last May. And oh yes: Better not tell Sameer and Samy Eid of Phoenicia Restaurant (same site since '81) or Jim, Nancy, Susan + Barbara Peabody (restaurateurs since '75 on site where Jim's dad opened a fruit market in '46) that "it seems that nothing ever lasts in Birmingham like in Royal Oak." There's heritage left in this ol' town yet!
Tom April 25, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Alan was it called the Jukebox?? Yes phoenicia, peabodys and 220 have been around since the 70's. But all the big retail left...Gap, Banana Republic, Jacobsons, and a bunch more that I cant remember. At least Dairy Mat and Dairy Deluxe keep on making it.
Alan Stamm April 25, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Bingo! Full moniker: Jukebox Saturday Night, if hazy recall is correct. As for retailers, I miss Huston Hardware's plank floors and "penny" nails weighed on a hanging scale way more than I regret the loss of national or statewide clothing chains. This is like geezer jawboning across a pickle barrel, backyard fence or porch rail, I trust you realize, Tom. Shud B txtng or tweeting.
Victor April 25, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Ted is absolutley right about Chen Chow and South, they were approved as asian and mexiacan resturants but they somehow morphed into nightclubs, the city need to look into this.
Victor April 25, 2012 at 11:21 PM
South will never changed in my opinion, they need to be shut down and if the city cant shut them down then make there lives a living hell as there currently doing (shutting valet down at midnight or giving tickets for inappropriate signs). Heres another thought, strip South's dancing permit away or complete cancel the valet parking. This will deter the ghetto patrons from pulling up there expensive vehicles in front of the establishment in an effort to show off. Something needs to be done, this is just a shame to the city and residents who live in it, its already bad rthat the economy is terrible now there is a possibility that property value will go down because of the elements South brought to the city. My wife and i are thinking long and hard about putting our house up on the market before the values of homes in Birmingham drop.
Night Life Orlando April 30, 2012 at 09:51 AM
its already bad rthat the economy is terrible now there is a possibility that property value will go down because of the elements South brought to the city.
Ron December 16, 2012 at 05:40 PM
I have known Mr. Fuller for several Decades. For everyones information Mr. Fuller started out in the Bar Business, he owned the Back Seat Saloon in Keego Harbor. That is how he made all his money. So I find it hard to believe he is so concerned about the Families who reside in Birmingham. I believe his concern is REALLY about HIMSELF with his REALESTATE going down in VALUE.


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