According to Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum owner Jeremy Yagoda, pictured with his son, Jonathan, more than 50,000 people have signed a petition in protest of a development that will likely force the business to move.

According to Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum owner Jeremy Yagoda, pictured with his son, Jonathan, more than 50,000 people have signed a petition in protest of a development that will likely force the business to move.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

New location for Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum yet to be determined

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published February 29, 2024


FARMINGTON HILLS — For more than four decades, Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum has been synonymous with good times and a place to gather with friends and family for many local residents.

While that isn’t expected to change anytime soon, the location likely will.

Marvin’s is an arcade and museum that is currently located at 31005 Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills.

It is located at the Hunter’s Square Shopping Center, at 14 Mile and Orchard Lake roads.

At a Feb. 12 Farmington Hills City Council meeting, consideration of approval for the partial redevelopment of the center was unanimously approved. According to the city, the portion of Hunter’s Square that was approved for redevelopment is 186,634 square feet.

The shopping center property was recently acquired by Kimco Realty, which is North America’s largest publicly traded real estate investment trust, specializing in grocery-anchored, open-air shopping centers and mixed-use assets, according to its website.

At the City Council meeting, a 70,000-square-foot Meijer grocery store was discussed as one of the new tenants that will be moving into that location.

“Meijer is one of the big tenants that are moving in, but I am not being displaced for Meijer’s,” said Jeremy Yagoda, who owns Marvin’s. “Meijer’s is just going to be a small grocery store format — it’s not one of the huge Meijer stores. … What exactly is going to replace me, I am not sure, as of yet. … I don’t know the exact specifics, but from what I have understood, it’s supposed to be a Meijer’s (and) a couple stand-alone buildings for mixed use — be it doctors’ offices, retail — I am not exactly sure.”

At the City Council meeting, an unspecified drive-thru-style type of restaurant was also discussed as a possibility.

Other tenants at Hunter’s Square listed on Kimco’s website include Ulta Beauty, Five Below and DSW Shoe Warehouse.

Yagoda said that there has been very little communication between him and Kimco, with the communication that has taken place being “very un-definitive and ambiguous.”

“The latest is that I’m going to have to be out of here by the end of the year. At least that is what is presented to me so far,” he said. “I know I am here till the end of the year; whether they’re going to give me any more time beyond that, I don’t know. They’ve been very ambiguous in everything.”

Yagoda said that his reaction to the development was shock and disappointment.

“It was definitely not something that I was expecting to happen and definitely not something I was expecting to happen as quick as it is,” he said.

Yagoda took over the business after his father, Marvin, died in 2017.

He said that the business has been at its current location since 1980.

It was originally a part of Tally Hall, which Yagoda described as “like the first big food court in metro Detroit.”

After Tally Hall closed in 1988, Marvin’s ceased operations until around 1990, according to Yagoda.

He described the Marvin’s experience.

“It’s a sensory overload,” Yagoda said. “It’s one man’s passion gone wild. My father built this, not about a business. Not everything was about, ‘will this pay for itself?’ It was about him buying things that he loved and sharing them with other people.”

Marvin’s is over 5,000 square feet and has features such as coin-operated machines, model airplanes, movie posters, collector’s items and antique memorabilia.

Farmington Hills Mayor Theresa Rich said that she has had a number of conversations with Yagoda.

“What I’ve made very clear from the get-go is my hope that this very iconic business chooses to stay in Farmington Hills,” Rich said. “We’ve always thought that it’s a great draw for the city and it helps make Farmington Hills a destination. They’ve been a good partner with us in the city, and we hope they continue to be so.”

Yagoda expressed no ill-will toward the city of Farmington Hills for approving the partial redevelopment.

“The city’s been phenomenal to me,” he said. “This is something that the city has no control over. As long as the property owner meets the zoning and the licensing requirements, a city can’t tell a property owner who they can lease to or things like that.”

Yagoda’s hope is to remain in the same shopping center, but in a space that is approximately 10,000 square feet, with the extra space allowing for perks such as dedicated party rooms.

If things don’t work out for Marvin’s to remain in Farmington Hills, Yagoda may not have to worry about having other suitors, as, according to him, multiple municipalities have reached out to him about moving the business to their community.

“It’s really nice to be wanted,” he said. “I’d love to stay in Farmington Hills. They’ve been phenomenal to us for years, but I have to go where I’m going to find the best option for me, and where that is, I do not know right now.”

However things end up playing out, Yagoda has thought about the issue from perspectives other than his own, and he understands the business side of things.

“They say progress is good, and progress is good, but it’s not always good for everyone, and I’m the unfortunate victim here,” he said. “I’m not blaming my landlord. I’m not blaming the city. … Do I agree with it from a business standpoint, separating myself from the picture? Absolutely. I get it.”

Yagoda did say, however, that it hurts. He is not the only one who is dealing with the disappointment of having to relocate the business.

He pointed out that more than 50,000 people from all over the country and the world have signed a petition in protest of the development.

“It’s unbelievable to see how many people are touched by my father’s passion and what he started,” Yagoda said. “I’m flattered by the response and that the people started that, but at the same time I’m realistic and I understand how business works, and that wasn’t going to, unfortunately, change anything. But still, to see that many people supporting us is unbelievable, and it shows me that I don’t (want to) close. … If they were going to be dislocating a Meijer’s, a Kroger or a McDonald’s, you’re not going to get 50,000 people that sign a petition to try and stop it.”

West Bloomfield resident Emily Meretsky is one of the people who signed a petition.

“I cried out of anger and out of being upset, and I was not very happy about it,” Meretsky said. “And then I looked immediately, ‘What can I do to fix it? What can I do to help?’”

Meretsky attended Marvin’s as a child and continues to now as an adult.

“That is a historic landmark of a sort from when my parents were my age, and even younger,” she said. “They shouldn’t have to move.”

Another resident of West Bloomfield, Miriam Leary, has frequented Marvin’s during various stages of her life.

“I have memories from, basically, all parts of my life — single person, married person; now I take my kids there,” Leary said. “I hope they can stay in the Farmington or West Bloomfield area … but if they move a little farther, we’ll probably still go.”

Leary has taken notice of the community support for Marvin’s.

“I belong to several Facebook groups in the general metropolitan Detroit area, and when they originally announced right before Farmington was going to vote on whether or not to approve the plans for Meijer’s, my groups blew up,” she said. “I would say hundreds of people were commenting about how upsetting it was they were moving, and the petitions were flying around to tell the city how much they didn’t want them to approve the plans.”

Rich said that the council worked together to make sure the development is something that is going to be “very positive for all and very welcoming as a destination.”

“The overall project is a fantastic thing for the city,” she said. “When you think about that intersection where we have 14 Mile, Orchard Lake and Northwestern all coming together, we are seeing some major development coming in very, very soon, and so, starting with the Hunter’s Square development, we’re going to see very much an upgraded … gateway to the city. … So, when I look at what’s coming in that gateway to the city, it will really make the city stand out as looking very modern.”

Rich provided details about what people can expect to see.

“One of the things we’re excited about with the Hunter’s Square development is, it’s going to very much uplift Farmington Hills, and that area in particular, as a destination,” she said. “We’re going to see more common areas for people to get together; we’re going to see some outdoor dining; we’re going to see some outbuildings; we’re going to see more public art. I think our residents will be very happy to see what goes in.”

Although it is still possible that Marvin’s could lease a space within the center, Yagoda said that the building is being demolished, and that there’s no changing that.

However, he also shared some words of encouragement for fans of Marvin’s.

“I am looking at other locations,” Yagoda said. “We are not going to close. That’s not an option at all. … Where we will reopen, I do not know yet.”

A representative from Kimco Realty declined to comment.