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Posted on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Arbor Hills shopping center opens Thursday: 5 things you should know

By Lizzy Alfs


The newly-installed Arbor Hills sign along Platt Road welcomes shoppers to the 90,700-square-foot boutique shopping center.

Lizzy Alfs |

Years of planning and months of construction are winding down, and the new Arbor Hills shopping center is prepared to welcome its first customers on Thursday morning.

The 90,700-square-foot, four-building boutique shopping center on Washtenaw Avenue between Platt Road and Huron Parkway will celebrate its grand opening starting at 10 a.m. on Aug. 22.


The Anthropologie storefront at Arbor Hills crossing center

Here are 5 things you should know about the shopping center’s opening:

Select stores open Thursday

Arbor Hills has 18 confirmed tenants, which includes a mix of national retailers, a regional pizza restaurant and several local businesses.

Arbor Hills development on Washtenaw Avenue

The developers have 18 signed leases, including national, regional and local tenants

Restaurant tenants in the center include Pizzeria Biga and Zola Bistro — a restaurant by the owners of downtown Ann Arbor’s Cafe Zola.

North Shore Properties Group’s Max Reiswerg, one of the Arbor Hills developers, said he’s negotiating a lease with a high-profile restaurant user for one of two remaining spaces in the shopping center.

Eleven tenants in Arbor Hills will open on Thursday, while the remaining seven are still working on individual build-outs and will open in the next two months.

Tenants opening Thursday are: Glassbox Coffee & Juice, Madewell, My Urban Toddler, Hot Mama, Running Fit, Sur La Table, lululemon, The North Face, V2V, Paper Source and Anthropologie.

Parking at the center

The City of Ann Arbor approved the Arbor Hills site plan with 310 parking spaces.

The center diverges from the typical shopping center layout — with buildings set far back from the road and a sea of parking in front. The parking spaces at Arbor Hills are dispersed next to and behind the four buildings on the site.

For a shopping center the size of Arbor Hills, the city requires a minimum of one parking space per every 310 square feet of gross floor area. City planning manager Wendy Rampson said Arbor Hills provides one space for every 290 square feet of gross floor area — slightly more than what is required by ordinance.

“Tenant mix will have something to do with how crowded the parking lot feels, but the goal is to have enough parking spaces to serve the uses without requiring unused pavement,” she wrote via email.

She also noted a bus pullout was added in front of the shopping center and the new traffic signal will allow pedestrians to safely cross Washtenaw Avenue. The Huron Village shopping center anchored by Whole Foods Market is located across the street from Arbor Hills.


Specialty cookware retailer Sur La Table will host $5 cooking demonstrations for its grand opening.

Lizzy Alfs |

“The (Huron Village) center continues to be highly successful, which indicates that customers are willing to spend a moment or two looking for an open parking space. We anticipate that Arbor Hills will adapt in a similar way if customers express concerns about the availability of parking,” she said.

New traffic signal is operational

The new traffic light at the intersection of Platt and Washtenaw is now fully operational. Before drivers reach the signal, they are met with a traffic sign that notifies them of the light.

Drivers should also note, there are no left turns directly out of the shopping center onto Washtenaw Avenue. To turn left, drivers should use the Platt Road exit.

Deals and giveaways

For deal-savvy shoppers, several Arbor Hills tenants will offer discounts and freebies on Thursday and throughout the weekend.

Promotions include: Madewell — a casual women’s clothing and accessories retailer owned by J.Crew — will offer the first 50 shoppers on Thursday a mystery discount between $25 and $250; My Urban Toddler will have raffles, giveaways and special sales through Labor Day; the first 50 customers at Hot Mama boutique on Thursday will receive gift cards and all shoppers will receive 15 percent off every purchase through Aug. 25; specialty cookware retailer Sur La Table will offer special demonstration cooking classes for $5.


Lululemon athletica offers free fitness classes at its stores nationwide.

Lizzy Alfs |

Group fitness classes

Yoga-inspired clothing store lululemon athletica regularly offers free fitness classes at its stores.

To celebrate the Ann Arbor store opening, lululemon will host three group events on opening weekend: a 5k trail run on Aug. 24, a CrossFit class on Aug. 24, and a “Go W/ The Flow” Vinyasa yoga class with Ben Rivet and Tori Reynolds on Aug. 25. (See more details on the lululemon Ann Arbor website)

Running Fit, an Ann Arbor-based retailer with eight stores in Michigan, offers classes for new runners, half and full marathon runners and children. Owner Randy Step said the new store on Washtenaw Avenue plans to regularly host group runs. (For updated information on running groups, visit the Running Fit website)

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.

Thanks for posting this nice story and I am glad to read the details. I have noticed that the parking lot in the last few days was full of cars and I would presume that they all belong to the employees who work there. Once Arbor Hills opens for business, is there any plan for all the employees who have to work there? I am really afraid that all these employees would migrate to the parking lot at Huron Village and make the life miserable to people who have to shop there. Even now, there are plenty of problems at Huron Village and the problem is chiefly attributed to the employees who tend to occupy a parking space for a minimum of six to eight hours where as the shoppers use a space for about 15 to 45 minutes. Parking is a issue if a space is occupied by a car for more than a reasonable amount of time. I am afraid that the full story is not shared here.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

Thanks for that response. It is interesting to note that many of the stores are hosting special events like cooking classes, yoga, and running/fitness training in groups. It may mean that customers may spend more time while they visit Arbor Hills. All said, and done, it is the story that matters, and you have narrated it very well.

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:05 p.m.

Employees are supposed to park in the back end of the lot, which wraps around behind all of the buildings, but I'm not sure that was happening on Thursday. But I can say that all day today -- I've been here since 9:15 -- the parking lot has been full or nearly full. Cars are parked along the sidewalks and I interviewed two women who parked outside Whole Foods and ran across the street.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

Walter Proknow and John Lee have no idea of the legacy they created and left in this area after selling their respective Buick and Oldsmobile dealerships.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4 p.m.

Read the ReImagine Washtenaw plan found at . The power point presentation explains the changes that are desired for vehicular transportation with the major component being "traffic calming." A summary is provided in slide 16. "Traffic Calming" purportedly will reduce the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behavior and improve conditions for non-motorized users. Included in the plan are speed reducers and lane reductions to single lanes in each direction, if possible. However, lane reduction is not feasible until traffic flow is reduced to 10,000 average daily traffic (ADT) from the present 26,000 ADT. Motor vehicle usage will be discouraged along Washtenaw Avenue by slowdowns produced by new traffic signals (such as at Platt Road) and by increasing curb cuts to allow vehicles to exit and enter Washtenaw Avenue (as with Arbor Hills). As vehicles turn off of or onto Washtenaw Avenue at curb cuts, travel down that lane must slow down. The designers of ReImagine Washtenaw hope that by lengthening the time for travel down Washtenaw Avenue drivers will become discouraged and may try alternate routes. Unfortunately, those drivers most inconvenienced will be commuters who must travel away from the city to their work locations. Alternate choices of getting to Interstate Highways (23 and 94) are limited with Gedes Road and Plymouth Roads inconvenient choices for most drivers. The developers of the ReImagine Washtenaw plan fail to acknowledge that much of the traffic along Washtenaw Avenue during rush hours consist of commuters who can not switch from their vehicles to either bus or bicycle transportation in order to travel to and from work. The greatest fear associated with the ReImagine Washtenaw plan is the real possibility that Ann Arbor will develop a reputation for being commuter unfriendly and, therefore, only people who will be working within the city will move here.

Lou Perry

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

Traffic on Washtenaw where Arbor Hills joins the Wholefoods Market is ready to create another massive traffic jam. You can get stuck on Main Street in traffic with cars in intersections trapped. All the traffic lights on Main downtown and other streets all turn red and green at the same time. The traffic light at Washtenaw and Stadium along with next light going west and then the new light at Arbor Hills all turn red at the same time again creating another traffic bottleneck. At least all major cities in the US use sequentially programed traffic lights and we do not. As an example lights downtown Main Street would allow going through all the lights let's say 10 miles per hour. Not only will help with traffic flow but minimize pollution. Ann Arbor is a real city with real traffic and we need to function as one.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

I went (yup, crazy), I saw and I left. Cars were parking illegally. Cops could have a field day! Many were parking at the County Farm parking lot and walking. Very busy!

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

I will have to check about whether people are being towed from the County Farm lot.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

Well, there's the bonus. Park at County Farm and get your workout by going shopping. That way no ticket "honest officer, I'm here to workout, its a hike to that new mall"

An Arborigine

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

Traffic nightmare and not a good place for AA's "entitled" pedestrians


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

Pedestrians Rule! At least that's what the city said.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

More jobs that are really needed!

James Pyke

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

Wow. That block was blighted for years (some portions for decades, even). Now something happens there that will create jobs, generate increased economic activity, and - because some of the stores going in are somewhat rare "destination" retailers - increase the likelihood of consumer tourism for East Ann Arbor. I would think people could muster a little more positivity about it than is on display here in the comments. I mean, seriously, it's almost like some people *want* things to go badly. Personally I have almost zero interest in any of these new businesses, but I wish them success and I hope others enjoy working, shopping and eating there.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

Kyle - You are correct, IMHO. However, I disagree about the attractiveness of the shopping center and what faces pedestrians using the sidewalk. We must hope that the Arbor Hills shops will be successful otherwise we could have a new blight similar to the Georgetown Mall that remains abandoned and unsightly after many years. (Question of the day: Will Craig Schubiner ever get the financing he needs to build Packard Park?)

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

James/SigD- I see what you're saying here, but most of the 'negative' comments we're seeing here are related to traffic and parking issues as a result of this new development. I think many would agree that having this development was a visual improvement for the property, but the concern over traffic is a discussion worth having. Washtenaw Avenue is a major traffic corridor for the city and adding a large commercial development may have a significant impact on travel in that area, particularly for residents who live in that area so it is a conversation worth having.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

"I would think people could muster a little more positivity about it than is on display here in the comments. I mean, seriously, it's almost like some people *want* things to go badly." Welcome to the message boards, where bad news is good and good news is bad.

social conscience

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

"For a shopping center the size of Arbor Hills, the city requires a minimum of one parking space per every 310 square feet of gross floor area. City planning manager Wendy Rampson said Arbor Hills provides one space for every 290 square feet of gross floor area — slightly more than what is required by ordinance." Clearly, if this also was the ratio for determining quantity of parking spaces required for the Whole Paycheck complex across the street, the City planners need to revisit the minimum requirement or the methodology for calculating gross floor area.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

"Whole Paycheck" - good one. Never heard that before. :)


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

I believe the Whole Foods development got a variance and does not meet that number. I also wonder whether all retail requires the same standard. To me, a grocery store is always going to bring in more traffic.

John Hritz

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

I find it interesting that for years, police ticketing people for turning left from Washtenaw onto Platt to get to the County Rec Center, but left turns are permitted into Arbor Hills. Perhaps this is because they are protected by the new signal?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

"Nobody goes to that part of town. It's too crowded."


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

Thank you for the Yogi Berra paraphrase. Sig. Gave me a good laugh.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

Actually they do, that's why it's a traffic nightmare.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

Now that traffic is bad and likely will be worse, where is the light going to be installed to help people get in and out of the Whole Foods shopping center??? Just a matter of time till more get hurt or killed.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Have they removed the pedestrian crossing signs in front of the county rec center? They colored out the lane markings but the signs were still up when I last dove by. Accident waiting to happen!


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

"Drivers should also note, there are no left turns directly out of the shopping center onto Washtenaw Avenue. To turn left, drivers should use the Platt Road exit." I'll bet my lunch money that there will be plenty of drivers ignoring any "no left turn" signs. In fact, I feel confident that it'll happen within 5 minutes of this grand opening.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

After watching enough people make hairpin U-Turns on downtown State St during the height of Fall semester, I'll believe anything is possible on SE Michigan roads.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

I am still seeing people turn left onto parts of Packard and Carpenter Road where they recently installed the curbs as barriers to prevent this from happening. Now, they are just going the wrong way in the traffic lanes so that they can do what they want! I have seen this happen twice, right in front of me! Obviously, I avoid this area if at all possible.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

Crono, while your optimism is noted and appreciated, I can only assume that by making a statement like that, you have never witnessed any of the drivers in this area. I swear that some of them make it a daily challenge to break as many traffic laws & laws of physics as humanly feasible. And those "forced" right-turn concrete dividers will not stop someone who REALLY wants to turn left, I assure you.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

The exit from Arbor Hills was configured so that you cannot attempt to turn left because of the angle of the concrete barrier installed. It angles cars to the right, forcing them to turn right.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

Wow! A bunch of stores i can't afford. Thanks!


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

Yeah, I hear you jastro, and I echo your sentiments. Yippie!


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Another thing people need to know: avoid this shopping area like the plague at rush hour. Traffic at that time is already a nightmare along Washtenaw, so plan accordingly.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

John, exactly! The US-23 entrance and exit ramps are terribly configured. The ramps should not simply just "merge" onto Washtenaw Ave from the highway. Traffic exiting US-23 needs to be able to stop at a traffic light and then proceed onto the roadway. Also, with Carpenter Rd being right next to the freeway, it causes even more problems. Maybe if Washtenaw was reconfigured to have roundabouts at the exit ramps with 23 as well as at Carpenter, traffic would flow much more smoothly.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

It's because of the on/off ramps to 23. Get past those and it's clear sailing. That junction sorely needs a rebuild to keep people getting on and off from competing for space with each other.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:37 a.m.

Love how both eastbound lanes of Washtenaw traffic completely block the Platt/Washtenaw intersection, so nothing moves in or out at the light. And when will they move the actual bus stop to the bus pulloff in front of Huron Hills? Bus currently stops right before the pulloff, so it blocks traffic, too.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

Kristen Marie and spagettimonsters - You are obviously not commuters of distance (like working in Livonia).


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

Kristen: for four years I also commuted that route on the bus. Be strong! It really is the way to go; if I hadn't finally found a place I like/can afford in Ann Arbor, I would still do it. I sure got a lot of my reading done, at least ;)

Kristen Marie

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

I take the bus to UofM everyday. That bus stop heading east stops right after the entrance to Huron Hills, not before. Either way, traffic there is already horrible and is going to be even worse. Taking the bus home at 5PM and sitting on washtenaw for a good 20 minutes from Manchester to 23 is a pain in the you know what.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:31 a.m.

Apparently, most consumers already "know" everything they need to know about Arbor Hills: The traffic will be terrible; there won't be any parking; therefore, they are not going to visit. This is fine by me - frees up space on the road and good parking spots near the entrances of stores I plan to visit.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

John - A bus is not conveniently available to everyone depending on where you live in the city. Furthermore, a shopper who has multiple items to carry home may find using the bus and walking any distance with packages difficult. A shopper may also have a problem adjusting his/her schedule with that of a bus. blackstarwhitelight - I agree with you. You may be interested in reading my comment posted 15 comments down from here. I believe that the designers of the ReImagine Washtenaw plan is hoping to make driving down Washtenaw Avenue so difficult that drivers will switch to alternative transportation like buses and bikes or just walking. Such a switch will not work well for commuters, however.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

That area is already constantly congested for blocks to over a mile at any given point throughout the day. The shopping center didn't even need to open before anyone with half a brain could foresee a problem. Opening an entire new MALL on this obscenely-busy stretch of road without doing anything to alleviate the current traffic issues (e.g. widening the roads)...yeah, things are bound to get far, far worse for everybody.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

Take the bus. Problem solved.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:56 a.m.

I avoid Huron Hills center precisely because the parking is so tight and access/egress is a pain. If customers adapt to this, then the stores are successful in spite of it. That is like saying the I 94 must be successfull because there are traffic tie ups in the morning and evening. Besides being closer to where I live, parking at the Whole Foods on Eisenhower is much easier to navigate.

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

@Crono: Yes, and that was the goal on the city's end for Arbor Hills - to eliminate the the big sea of parking that's normally in front of shopping centers. It's definitely a different look, and I suppose there are pros and cons. But when people talk about parking being tight at both Huron Village and Arbor Hills, I think to some degree, that design is intentional.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

I have yet to go to the Whole Foods on Washtenaw and not find a parking space.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

DDOT Arbor Hills is the new center. According to the article, Huron Village is the center across the street with Whole Foods. This is most likely what A2 was referring to.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

I go to the Whole Foods on Washtenaw and never have a problem parking near the entrance. Yes the parking lot is on the full-side, but to me that is a sign that the parking lot is right-sized. Mostly full, with just sporadic open spaces available.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

I still go to the Whole Foods on Washtenaw. I don't understand the need for people to have to park 10 feet from the store entrance. It's not going to kill you to walk a little farther by parking further away from the building. Since the shopping center has shown to be successful, it's obvious that people share the same viewpoint as I do. Too often, parking lots are built too big, making the area significantly more ugly than it already is taking up that much space just for people to park their cars.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

"I avoid Huron Hills center precisely because the parking is so tight and access/egress is a pain." You speak as if this place has been open for much longer than it's grand opening today.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:12 a.m.

"...said he's negotiating a lease with a high-profile restaurant user..." Restaurant user or restaurateur?