Embrace the stylish, yet casual lounge, located in the epicenter of Ferndale’s Downtown Entertainment District. Whether you want to savor the signature martinis or mingle with friends, Soho’s friendly staff will see to your every whim.
Open since 2004, Soho continues to be the area's most premier gay bar, catering to the LGBT community. It features a diverse and easy-going environment where all are welcome! Soho Ferndale has a great weekly line-up of trivia, karaoke, dance parties, and sweet drink specials.
Call us at (248) 542-7646
21 & Up
Monday - Friday 4 p.m. - 2 a.m
Saturday - Sunday 2 p.m. - 2 a.m
205 W. 9 MILE RD, FERNDALE, MI 48220
CITY OF FERNDALE
Source www.metromodemedia.com - full article here
The Ferndale we know today is a picturesque community where diversity is encouraged and celebrated, independently-owned businesses are promoted and supported, the residential areas are clean and safe, and the downtown gets more walkable every day.
"Ferndale is a microcosm of the United States," says Charles Goedert, former mayor of Ferndale and current judge of the 43rd District Court in Hazel Park. "It’s because of the diversity of race, age, sexual orientation, class, everything – right here in Ferndale."
To point out that the city has a large LGBT community goes without saying; we wouldn’t exactly be shedding any new light on the subject by doing so. The real question is, how did Ferndale become the progressive inner-ring suburb that it is today, and why was the LGBT community drawn to this area en masse versus Royal Oak, Oak Park, or any other nearby suburb?
There is a big difference between being inclusive and being tolerant. Cities like Royal Oak and Ann Arbor are gay-friendly; there are gay bars and gay businesses and a strong show of LGBT neighbors within their respective communities. But the difference between Ferndale and other cities is the difference between "us" and "them:" in Ferndale the gay community is simply referred to as the community; it’s not about being gay-friendly or tolerant but being fully inclusive and integrated - to the point that "gay" isn’t even part of the discussion anymore.
According to the latest census information, in Michigan, Ferndale is second only to tiny but tawny neighbor Pleasant Ridge for percentage of households with same-sex couples. In fact, Pleasant Ridge ranks among the top ten nationally.
"There are a lot of things that go into it," says Cristina Sheppard-Decius, executive director of the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority. "It’s not about just being gay-friendly and open but being a hub; there’s a difference in terms of how a city embraces [diversity] and what else they do to encourage it. It’s one thing to say you’re gay-friendly and one thing to actually BE gay-friendly."
Sheppard-Decius attributes much of the growth of the LGBT community within Ferndale to the government officials who became proactive 20 years ago in making a positive impact on what was then a crumbling city, as well as the LGBT activists who worked tirelessly at promoting safety and integration. And the DDA continues to foster diversity by ensuring that their board members represent the community’s diverse population.
THE PAST IS PRESENT
The LGBT community has had a history of following Woodward since World War II (when LGBT communities really began to cluster), a social migration pattern that has been happening for nearly 70 years. Prior to WWII the gay community was centered downtown, then moved up Woodward to settle in New Center and later Palmer Park. In Detroit, when the push for gay rights became part of the national debate, Palmer Park would have been our Castro or Montrose. But there was a series of vicious crimes and murders in the 1980s and people began to flee up to Ferndale.
"In the beginning of the '80s Ferndale was a blank slate," says Oakland County Commissioner and former mayor of Ferndale Craig Covey. "The downtown was empty. You could roll a bowling ball down the middle of 9 Mile and not hit anything." Home values were declining; the storefronts downtown were almost entirely empty except for a few adult bookstores, nail salons, wig shops and a strip club.
"We had to turn that around," Goedert says "Folks could see, 'Hey, this place is going somewhere, they’re working to revitalize themselves,’ and they wanted to be a part of that." Goedert served on the Ferndale city council from 1992-1995, then as mayor from 1996-2001. "I was a lone voice on council the first four years," he says. "I wanted to get some things done to revitalize the city."
One of his first crusades was the take-down of the old Reichhold Chemical plant, which had a terrible impact on the community because of pollution and its hulking decaying structure. Goedert forced Lansing’s hand and Reichhold was directed to clean up the site and contain contamination. A developer came in afterward and built the housing that's now there.
Goedert then advocated for re-developing the downtown into a walkable business district. He restored on-street parking, allowed for sidewalk cafes, forced businesses to use their front, street-facing doors (instead of the parking lot-facing back doors) as the main entrance, instated beautification efforts, then created the Byld Program, which allowed business owners and merchants to access grants and low-interest loans for building improvements from a pool of money designated to help revitalize the downtown.
"There was a lot of resistance to all these changes," Goedert notes. "We took the better approach and it worked … instead of bulldozing it for a strip mall as the old leadership wanted."
The "old leadership" was extremely conservative and extremely entitled. Once liberal Goedert became mayor, he shook up city hall by displacing long-term seat-holders on the Planning Commission and instead brought in qualified professionals willing to volunteer their time.
"A lot of these components together attracted an LGBT community that saw a revitalized neighborhood that cared," Goedert says. "It snowballed from there."
One of the draws to Ferndale was affordable housing. "Royal Oak was growing and starting to gentrify and wasn’t affordable at the time," Covey explains. "In the '80s and '90s there was more affordable housing in Ferndale, classic homes built 80 years ago that were kind of shabby. Gay people historically tend to move into classic neighborhoods that need gentrification - all of these things created a kind of perfect storm."
The city also had easy access to major highways and was the epicenter of metro Detroit. Ferndale became a great place to invest, and as the government worked hard to attract forward-thinking people in order to stimulate the economy and stop the housing downturn, the historically blue collar "old guard" began to see their city flourish. New people and new ideas were welcomed.