That’s a wrap for Casey’s Pub, a neighborhood establishment that’s been around for about three decades.

Tonight, driving by and seeing the lights on, a stop had to be made. Was it to be saved? Were the Facebook reports of it’s closing wrong?

Alas, no.

Casey’s was supposed to be closed on New Year’s Eve, but apparently bartender Gabe Azzopardi was allowed to open it one more time for the Lions vs. Cowboys playoff game.

“If I could do anything to change it, I would,” said the barman who is well loved by the locals and streams of suburbanites who visit for special events like St. Patrick’s Day and various game days.

He also, as well as those in the establishment, were pretty clueless as to the future of the location. The owners have been playing this one pretty close to the vest.

But those of us following Detroit development know a few things that would make that space a prime target for change.

Just steps down the street, the ink is freshly dry on a deal to transform the old Tiger Stadium site into a mixed-use residential and commercial development with youth field. A short distance up Michigan, you have the nightlife powerhouses of Two James, The nationally-known Slow’s BBQ, Mercury, Gold Cash Gold and the Gaelic League, with the venerable LJ’s thrown in. St. Cece’s, the UFO bar, PJ’s Lager House, Nemo’s, Ottava Via, Corktown Tavern and McShane’s that are also all in close distance. We’re also hearing rumors that we haven’t been able to confirm of another eatery about to jump off near the train station.

Yes, we just listed 13 drinking establishments. Motor City Wine doesn’t serve liquor, but we’ll call it 14 and soon, Batch Brewery will be open nearby and if we’re going to go that far, let’s include Nancy Whiskey’s. That’s 16. And we’re probably missing something.

The final night at Casey's Pub
The final night at Casey’s Pub

The neighborhood of Corktown even has a big ‘ol dog park now that would make most people jealous, and there are new-ish places like Astro Coffee, Brooklyn Street Local and the Detroit Institute of Bagels all close by. There’s a decent non-Whole Foods grocery store in Honeybee La Colmena just on the other side of the train station (where you’d find Our Detroit Vodka and the Mexican Village restaurant, too). Even Quicken has invested in the neighborhood with a new data center.

Mix all of those draws for young people with Corktown’s storied history, some cool buildings that weren’t lost in the mass destruction of the last 20 years and the familiarity many suburbanites have with going to the area for large events (as well as a historic memory and connection with the old Tiger Stadium site), a steady drumbeat of coverage from outlets like the New York Times, and you’ve got the recipe for an intense level of growth and investment the next few years on Michigan between the Lodge and where I-75/I-96 crosses under Michigan Ave. to the west.

Outside of some streetscape and road improvements that would make the area much more pedestrian friendly, you’ve got the makings of another “Detroit success story” the national media could write about. If for some reason a streetcar came back to Michigan Avenue, it’d be the final feather in the cap. After all, even though they’re not usable, you can still see the old tracks embedded in the bricks of the tore-up road where lack of maintenance has left the asphalt to pull apart and expose the old street.

A final shot of Jameson at Casey's Pub

There aren’t details on what will happen to Casey’s, but whether it’s simple progress of a hot urban neighborhood, the Gentrification Industrial Complex hard at work, or whatever you’re going to call it, the reality that set in after that shot of Jameson is that soon Corktown won’t be the same as it is today or was a few years ago.

Better? Worse? Returning to former glory? Will some people be left out? You be the judge, but bits of all of those four statements are bound to be true.

Whatever “it” is, it’s time to buckle up because Corktown is happening, and as Dylan sung – the times they are a’changing.

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