Whether you think of Shorty's Auto Parts on Main Street as unique – or an eyesore – doesn't matter. The one-time destination for teenagers with clunkers is getting a makeover.
Brandon Becker, the owner of 1603-1609 N. Main St., received unanimous support from neighbors and the Royal Oak Planning Commission last September to construct a second-story addition and convert the former auto parts building into retail and professional offices.
“I never thought I’d be having this conversation,” said Tom Hallock, chairman of the planning commission. “Shorty’s was the local nightmare.”
“How deep did you have to dig in the yard to get the auto parts out?” joked Mayor Jim Ellision, also a member of the planning commission.
Becker conceded last fall he did have some trepidation about all the vehicles that were dismantled on the site over the years, but he said the site managed to pass environmental site assessments.
Five months later, workers are adding the second story. Becker had hoped to open Building Detail, a custom residential design/build company, on March 1 but had some setbacks, he said.
"Nothing ever happens as quickly as we think it will," he said. "We're now hoping to be open for business in May."
The first floor of the renovated building will be what Becker calls a “selection café” of devices and fixtures for home remodeling. The second floor will be an office area. Becker also has a tenant, Tuff Sheds, lined up.
Before the commission voted last September, Ellison offered a nostalgic look back at Shorty's.
“Being a longtime Royal Oaker, I grew up with Shorty’s. It was a destination point for a 16-year-old with a car that kept breaking down,” the mayor said. “I spent a lot of time there. As I drove by it, I wondered who would have the vision for this unique building.”
Are you a gearhead who spent a lot of time at Shorty’s? Tell us your favorite memories in the the comments.