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It Didn’t Pay: Ports o’ Call Says Farewell to Skytower

Times Staff Writer

Visitors to Ports o’ Call Village will no longer have the Skytower as a point of reference for finding the waterfront tourist attraction. Detroit-area residents will be using it.

Specialty Restaurants Corp. of Long Beach, owner of Ports o’ Call, has sold the 375-foot tower to Bob-Lo Island, an amusement park near Detroit that will use it as an attraction.

Closed since 1983, the Skytower was not profitable, said William Sleeper, vice president and controller of Specialty restaurants. He declined to give a sale price but said: “It will cost them more to transport and install it than they paid for it.”

The tower, installed in the mid 1970s, will be dismantled, shipped to Detroit and reassembled. Bob-Lo Island general manager Dan Aylward, who also declined to give a purchase price, said he expects the tower to be ready when the 272-acre park reopens in May.

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“It should make an excellent addition to our park,” said Aylward, adding that the purchase is part of a $5 million redevelopment program at the 87-year-old park.

Won’t Hurt Business

Sleeper said he does not believe the tower’s departure will hurt the restaurants and shops at Ports o’ Call. “It’s nice to have a landmark, but as far as generating any business, I can’t imagine how a ride that isn’t operating would do much,” he said.

Several merchants at Ports o’ Call agreed that the tower’s departure will not have much effect on them.

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“Its being gone won’t really hurt business because the thing hasn’t worked in a long time anyway,” said the manager of an art gallery who did not want his name used.

Other Ports o’ Call workers agreed. “Although the tower does add beauty to our place, nobody’s going to miss it because it’s been so long since it worked,” said a store clerk who identified herself only as Rosie. “I remember the time it got stuck and they had to call the fire department to get the people down.

“What we will miss about it is that when we tell people how to find Ports o’ Call, we usually tell them to look for the Skytower because you can see it from so far away.”


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