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Posted on Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 10:35 a.m.

Briarwood Mall unveils major renovation plan: 'We want to improve the look'

By Lizzy Alfs


Briarwood Mall is Washtenaw County's largest shopping center, with anchor stores including Sears, Macy's, Von Maur and JCPenney.

Melanie Maxwell |

Briarwood Mall, Washtenaw County’s largest shopping center, will undergo a major renovation project this year that mall representatives say will improve the shopping experience for customers.

“While we’ve aged gracefully and we’ve been a place for our shoppers to come and hang out, to dine, to shop, we want to improve the look,” said Briarwood Mall manager Ida Hendrix. “We appreciate the loyalty from this community. Our shopping center continues to thrive with your support and we want to make this place an even better venue for you to enjoy.”


The Briarwood Mall entrances will be updated as part of the renovation file photo


A rendering shows what the updated Briarwood Mall entrances will look like. Plans include upgrading the lighting to LED and increasing the mall's signage.

Courtesy photo

Mall representatives announced the plans at a press conference on Tuesday morning, which was also attended by Mayor John Hieftje, Washtenaw County Commissioner Yousef Rabhi, and A2Y Chamber CEO Diane Keller.

Plans include:

  • New signage and landscaping
  • New entrances with automatic entry doors
  • Energy efficiency upgrades, including LED lighting
  • Fresh paint and improved flooring
  • Renovated restrooms and corridors
  • Revamped children's play area in the Von Maur wing
  • Additional seating in center court with Wi-Fi and lounge-style furniture
  • Overhead architectural changes

At more than 1 million square feet, the 40-year-old mall owned by Simon Property Group is the city of Ann Arbor's biggest taxpayer. It's located at the corner of Interstate 94 and South State Street and anchored by JCPenney, Macy's, Sears and Von Maur. The last time the mall was renovated was a decade ago.

The mall’s taxable value has fallen by approximately $6 million since its $43.8 million assessment in 2010.

The most important piece of the project, said Denise Murray, the mall’s director of marketing and business development, is that the renovations will be completed with a “green focus.” The interior and exterior lighting will be upgraded to energy efficient fixtures.

“The most important part of this piece is that it’s going to save us power,” Murray said.

“The values of this community and the values of Simon have aligned and it’s really great to be able to serve a community like this and have the opportunity to be a leader in this direction,” she continued.

Hieftje and Rabhi both thanked Simon Property Group for making the investment in energy upgrades. Hieftje said the project coincides with the city’s sustainability goals.

“As we look at development like this, it’s just spectacular that they are taking on the best in light technology, that they’re going to take a big bite out of carbon production,” Hieftje said.

In recent months, a series of luxury brand stores have announced plans to open in the mall, including Michael Kors, Vera Bradley and Soma Intimates. Murray called the newcomers "fabulous national retailers" and said Briarwood will continue to grow, expand and improve its customer experience and tenant selection.

Hendrix told that the mall’s rental rates should not be impacted by the renovation and called it a “win-win” for tenants. She expects the renovations will increase the mall’s foot traffic and create a buzz among shoppers.

Phil Kajca, owner of the Pandora Jewelry franchise in the mall, said he's looking forward to the upgrades. The experience at Briarwood, he said, hasn't always matched the community of Ann Arbor and its thriving downtown.

Hendrix said there are no immediate plans to remove the kiosks in the center aisles of the mall, but they are continually evaluating the mall's layout. She also called the kiosks a great opportunity for business owners to try out new concepts.

As for parking lot improvements or outlot redevelopment opportunities, Murray and Hendrix said there is nothing to announce at this time.

"We continue to explore opportunities," Hendrix said.

Mall representatives declined to reveal the cost of the renovations, which will start on Thursday, March 7. Hendrix said the project could be completed at the end of October and the mall will remain open during that period.

The Briarwood renovation news comes as another large retail center is being constructed on Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor. The 100,000-square-foot Arbor Hills is expected to bring more than 20 retail shops and three restaurants — including Cafe Zola and Pizzeria Biga — to the Washtenaw corridor when it opens in August.

"We certainly pay attention to our competition and we do consider them competition, but this (renovation plan) has been in the works for about 2.5 years now," Murray said. "It will bring more people to Ann Arbor."

For Briarwood Mall renovation updates, shoppers can text Reno15 to 74666 or check the mall’s Facebook page. reporter Ben Freed contributed to this report.


From left, Briarwood director of marketing Denise Murray, vice president of design at Nudell Architects Andrew Cottrell, vice president mid-atlantic region at Simon Property Group David Johnson, Briarwood Mall manager Ida Hendrix, Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje, Washtenaw County Commissioner Yousef Rabhi, A2Y Chamber CEO Diane Keller and Briarwood Mall operations director Mike Ewald, break tiles to mark the start of renovations

Melanie Maxwell |


Briarwood Mall's Ida Hendrix and Denise Murray announce the mall's renovation plans at a conference on Tuesday morning.

Melanie Maxwell |

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



Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Yawn - its still a crowded - poorly laid out mall


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 12:21 a.m.

"While we've aged gracefully.." Yeah. The crumbling roads around the mall and dreary atmosphere inside are hardly examples of "aging gracefully." Get rid of the hawkers at the kiosks. This is not a 3rd world market with vendors jumping out in front of people as they walk by.

Visual Echo

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

Fix the parking lot. Fix the Parking Lot. FIX the Parking Lot. FIX THE PARKING LOT!!!


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

Let's do some basic math: Assume that commercial property is assessed the same as residential, i.e., that the taxable value is half the actual value. Using this assumption, the property is valued at $80 per square foot. As far as properties go, this is a fairly high cost facility - it has multiple bathrooms, food preparation areas, large open spaces, etc. So, given the the value of the property is $80 per square foot, why is the city paying more than $600 per square foot for a trivially simple building like the transportation center?


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

The biggest improvement would be to get rid of all of the tacky kiosks!


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

Briarwood is simply Fairlane West.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 3:44 a.m.

I love that mall, moved to Ypsi in 73 and have been shopping there since the beginning.

Use Logic

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 3:25 a.m.

Forget Briarwood. I stopped going there when Simon bought it, and expressly banned CPL holders. They're free to do so, but I'm also free to take my business to a place that isn't a 'victim disarmament' zone.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 3:19 a.m.

While you're at it, let the trapped birds go free (unless they've lost their wild instincts).


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

@hmm lol there are always a few confused birds flying around in the skylights


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

What are you talking about?


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 3:17 a.m.

briarwood was a nice place to shop...... about 15 years ago. since it changed hands its just another cheap ugly mall full of tacky kiosks, scary ratty xmas and easter displays and where once relaxing fountains stood we now get to enjoy the ugliest food court ever known. nope. ill keep taking my dollars to somerset or chicago. thx.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:52 a.m.

Will they be re-paving and re-striping the parking lots and ring road? That and the perfume emanating from Sears keep me away from the whole east end!


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 12:45 a.m.

Von Maur is so classy, I wonder if they are ok with a playground in front of their store front. But in any event, these upgrades sound nice.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 3:18 a.m.

another nasty play area is the last thing that place needs. its like a mcdonalds without the burgers. ugh.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:47 a.m.

there go the nice bathrooms!


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 12:09 a.m.

Looking forward to the new look, but man, I have to say, that rendering does NOT look much different from the actual photo. I'm also all for saving power on this whole LED craze, but must say that in a mall setting like that, LED light might wind up kind of depressing; it has a very distinct look that doesn't lend itself to...much.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 12:36 a.m.

did you vote yourself down too, lol?


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 12:10 a.m.

I just read my post, and realized I was being dishonest. I didn't really HAVE to say ANY of that.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 11:58 p.m.

If you're going to put in all these seats in the "wi-fi" area, how about some plugs for electricity to power our stuff. I tried 4 different floor plugs in there (which I had to move tables to get to) and not a single one worked.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 11:56 p.m.

Everyone keeps talking about the Cheesecake Factory...I would love to see a PF Chang's around Briarwood, or anywhere in A2.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 11:20 p.m.

Once upon a time there was no briarwood. People went to Arborland (once semi-enclosed). People could shop, eat out, get drycleaning done, have a haircut, pick up groceries, see a doctor,lawyer, banker, jeweler, or take in a big screen movie. All in vibrant downtown Ann Arbor. Jacobsons on liberty ruled the refined (then Borders now Barracuda) and Kresge's on main got the kids. Downtown Ann Arbor was a hopping, vibrant, DDA dream come true - before the DDA even existed. Taubman (as in UM Hospital center) built Arborland. And then Briarwood super Mall. Complete with packed theatres. Disco dancing shoppers loved it! So did their kids. Or Arborland after its redesign. Or Maple Village. Or Plymouth Mall. Downtown Ann Arbor quickly died. So the DDA was enacted to save it. Then came the Meijers, the discount boxstores, and the internet that killed off the Malls. Maybe Briarwood needs a "BDA" to save it from them and to help restore their former "class" status. Or maybe just fewer, wealthier people returning downtown with a lot less mass construction inviting local poverty overgrowth.

Tyrone Shoelaces

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:10 a.m.

"Once upon a time there was no Briarwood. People went to Arborland" I remember the helicopter at Monkey Wards. And I remember granite whale. I heard a rumor it's on somebody's property on the shore of Base Line Lake now.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 10:30 p.m.



Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 9:55 p.m.

I am sadly disappointed with this announcement of changes to Briarwood. New doors, signs and improved restrooms will not encourage me to shop there more. I would rather drive to Laurel Park Place or 12 Oaks or even Toledo's Franklin Park mall. The ambience at the other malls is so much nicer than Briarwood, the restaurants are inviting and the selection in the stores is larger and classier. The Macy's at Briarwood is pathetically small. It doesn't carry many of the brands that 12 Oaks or Somerset carries. It surprises me that a wealthy town like Ann Arbor cannot support a larger Macy's or a Nordstrom's. There are too many teen type stores at Briarwood and not enough destination type restaurants. It would be nice if Briarwood developed some of the unused parking lots to build additional stores and restaurants. I will add my voice of disdain regarding the kiosks. They are tacky and the people who run them are much too aggressive. It's too bad that Briarwood management has not heard the voice of the people regarding what they really want in a mall.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.

Agree, wish we would get a Nordstroms, and not just the Rack.

Holy Cow

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 9:50 p.m.

Are they kidding? This is the major announcement? The way they hyped it up a few weeks ago I thought they were going to announce a wing addition with another anchor, more stores, a food court etc. The announcement that there was going to be an announcement on March 5th was on all of the news channels three weeks ago. If I was the media, I would feel duped.

Paula Gardner

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

We did scale back our coverage plans.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

I'm not a big mall guy, but when I do have to go to Briarwood, I really hate those kiosks. Not so much because of the cheap merchandise or the aggressive salespeople, but they just make the place feel more crowded. Uggh.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:49 p.m.

I'm sorry, but new doors and toilets aren't going to alleviate the frustration and annoyances of the horrible traffic engineering, potholes, and road layout surrounding Briarwood. Why not be really innovative and redesign the laughable intersections, roads, and traffic flow so it encourages semi-competent driving. That would actually get more people into the stores. I can't imagine I'm the only one who avoids Briarwood Circle (and malls in general) because of the vexing roads that encircle and crush souls.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

I'm sure these new touches will freshen the place up a bit. But in the bulleted list of highlights, I see absolutely nothing that will "bring more people to Ann Arbor" as Ms. Murray claims. Sorry, but new (albeit badly needed) restrooms and a few lounge chairs in the center (c'mon, really??) are not going to attract anyone. In order for that to happen, there needs to be a signficant structural and design overhaul. If they really want to make the place a destination, they badly need a real food court as well as the vastly different feel a second story (as many have said) would give the place. In short, it needs to be more FUN to go to Briarwood.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

I disagree about the proposed changes being too minor to matter ... and I disagree about the need for a second floor. I agree that it has aged well - it's a reasonable, nicely open design with high ceilings and daylighting. The bones are good, as they say. I would not want renovations that drive up rents, above all. I'd like the rents to stay at a point where classy, interesting, somewhat independent stores can afford to be, as well as the big chains. That's what I'd like to see --- stores that make it worth my while to go there. If, in addition, they can keep out the cheesy stores, and cut back on the cheapo kiosks (while making it possible to still have kiosks, but interesting ones) space the kiosks farther apart), regulate the behavior of the kiosk workers, add more food options, add more seating everywhere, add wifi (yesss!), and maybe bring back the fountain - I'd be really pleased.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

New signage? So I guess that means they're also including new landscapage, doorage, floorage, paintage, energy efficiency upgradage and an improved area for children's playage? Oh! They're putting in new signs! Why didn't they just say that in the first place? Signage, signage, everywhere a signage Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mindage Do this, don't do that Can't you read the signage?


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:15 p.m.

It's pretty obvious the people who will be shopping at Briarwood can't stand the Kiosks. So much so, they actually keep customers away. Yet, management has no desire to remove them, only to "improve" them. Sounds to me like management doesn't give a hoot about the feedback of their consumers. And that right there is enough for me to never go back.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:14 p.m.

Sorry to break the news, but many of us like to shop with local businesses/merchants...not those as agents of some national chain or New York-based impersonal activity.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:14 p.m.

For those just posting without bothering to read: No, there will be no food court. No, the kiosks are not being removed. This article takes 90 seconds to read.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 3:21 a.m.

Hey, that's my job!

Tyrone Shoelaces

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:07 a.m.

Forum cop


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:47 p.m.

the comment section is for folks to voice their opinions/comments on the story!!!!


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

p.s. any mention of resurfacing the parking lots or different traffic management strategies at the Main Street entrance/exit?


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

It looks like I'm in the minority here, but I've never had too many problems the kiosks in Briarwood. I've only had one Kiosk operator act in an agressive manner to me and usually if you ignore or wave off the kiosk workers, they leave you alone. I do agree Briarwood could use a food court, it's a staple of most other malls.

Paula Gardner

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

I'm not a fan of the kiosks, but find the same thing if I follow one simple rule: No eye contact whatsoever.

Bob W

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:39 p.m.

You shouldn't even have to "wave them off." It should be "if I'm interested in your wares, I'll approach you."


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:46 p.m.

Sounds like replacing the kiosks with a food court might be a good way to go. Obviously more work but sounds like a bigger revenue producer.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:39 p.m.

Fix our roads first.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 5:32 a.m.

Roads, curbs, and parking lots in decent shape - too much to ask for?


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

Food court... If a food court is too cheeky for a modern mall, at least give us some more convinient and tasty quick service options.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

Do you feel like pretzels, a cookie, or pretzels?


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 5:04 a.m.

What Italian restaurant are you referring to?


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:56 a.m.

There is a chinese place at one end and Italian at the other. Need some order with the food courts here. They did a long time ago, now they have lost site.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

Egress - I am not sure anyone addressed the other problem the kiosks create. When it is busy, it is very difficult to move freely through the hallways. Reducing the amount of kiosks or eliminating them would help this greatly. I agree their aggressiveness is also annoying but - I get most frustrated by them just being in the way. The hallways would seem much more luxurious if they're removed. Plus, you could put occasional seating in some select spots. Food - Chipotle and CPK are considered good because that is all Briarwood has to offer. An anchor restaurant like a J. Alexanders or Elephant Bar and Restaurant is critical. Create a space that is big, fun, open and inviting. Attract a restaurant that will attract people to the mall. Twelve Oaks had this problem. Here comes the Cheesecake Factory! I often go to these malls for the food and - surprise surprise - stay and shop. Parking - The drop-off areas are poor and dangerous for elderly, disabled, and children. Valet parking at Somerset is the best deal in town. Plus, it is free if - you eat at one of their anchor restaurants - surprise surprise.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

The notice of the coming announcement was far more exciting than the announcement itself. For those old enough to have read it, an exhibit of Daniel Boorstin's "pseudo even."


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

I'm really happy with the new stores - L'Occitane, Francesca's, Michael Kors, Vera Bradley (even though I wouldn't shop there), so freshening up is definitely in order. But this is the first mall I've seen that doesn't have a food court. Not that food court offerings are edible, but hanging out in the food court as a teen is like a rite of passage. Hanging out at the kiddie section as a teen is just... creepy.

Jack Gladney

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 6:35 p.m.

Shorter version of the story: Lipstick on a pig. Briarwood is not a 'destination place' unless you're a teenager or a lover of kiosk carnival barkers. I'd rather drive to 12 Oaks or Somerset.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:17 p.m.

Yup, that's what it comes down to or me. I'd rather drive 25 minutes to 12 Oaks than 10 to Briarwood. I can spend a day at 12 Oaks, especially with a Cheesecake factory.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 6:25 p.m.

The kiosks remind me of a flea market and the wokers scare my children. I vote to get rid of them.

Atticus F.

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children!


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

They need a food court.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Unless they get a food court in there, the mall will still be a place that most go for a specific thing and then leave to go eat elsewhere.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

Will there be a food court? This mall desperately needs a food court. Also, I hope they will be adding more restrooms as a part of the restroom renovation.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 10:25 p.m.

hello, it is not 1985. Food courts are dead, Consumers have no interest in them, and retailers realize they make them very little money.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:11 p.m.

The answer to hat is No. Read the article.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

"desperately" *cough* What, exactly, is the point of a food court? So you can get all your crappy mall food in one place? So the seating area is especially loud and chaotic? Count me out. For openers, eating anything at a mall is probably a bad idea to begin with. Second, if I find that I must eat at a mall, I'd rather find a quiet space in the back corner of a standalone restaurant, rather than the middle-school-cafeteria atmosphere of a food court.

Lou Perry

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:40 p.m.

I can't remember the last time I shopped at Briarwood. Without effort I do all my shopping at locally own retailers. But it sure is nice a big footprint is paying taxes vs. the university.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

So Briarwood calls these modest cosmetic upgrades a "major renovation," but when U-M radically transformed the Big House, including rebuilding the seating bowl, it was just "routine repairs." I guess that means Briarwood must already be in compliance with the ADA.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

Actually it already is. Correct.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:32 p.m.

I gave up on J C Pennys a long time ago. I did not like the new pricing policy and no sales. Don't think I will be going there even if they put new "frosting" on the cake!


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

Can't live without Penneys. Only place that has clothes I like. Everything else is junk. Go Penneys and go Sears.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

JC Penny just reversed the no sales policy, was there last week and items were reduced.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

I have nothing new to add, but want to add my voice to those who hate the kiosks. They make the experience a very unpleasant one for me. They are too aggressive, way too cheezy, and are a huge factor why I don't think of this mall as being upscale. They just drag the whole feeling of the mall down. Were it not for the Apple Store, I would probably never go to Briarwood and a huge factor in my decision is the presence of the kiosks. Get rid of them and the entire experience would be much more pleasant and relaxed, maybe even fun and enjoyable, and I definitely would go there more often, not just because of the Apple store. They are probably a huge money-maker, though, so I'm not too hopeful that our voices will be heard. Thanks for listening to me gripe about the kiosks.

Tyrone Shoelaces

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

"Were it not for the Apple Store, I would probably never go to Briarwood and a huge factor in my decision is the presence of the kiosks." What he/she said.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

I agree and can't stand the kiosks. They are the reason I avoid going to Twelve Oaks and Briarwood, though Briarwood's are much, much worse due to the tighter quarters.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

I concur on the Kiosks being annoying and tacky. The only time I go to the mall now is for Christmas and Easter pictures. That being said, I found out last year that the Dixboro General Store has a Santa on the weekends in December and you don't have to pay $29.00 for the picture, you can actually take if for free on your own camera. What a concept.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:52 a.m.

Santa brings live reindeer to the Dixboro store on select weekends too!


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.

Mall culture - meh. I never understood the allure of the mall or lemming fashion trends.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

If it does not include a dollar movie theater then I don't care.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:54 a.m.

Get Net Flex and make your own theater. We do. Better then sticking to the floors. Although you could do that at home I suppose.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 10:23 p.m.

If dollar movies were a VIABLE business I am sure they would put one in., BUT the fact is, it is a money loser. If you ant, every Wednesday Rave has $5 movies. If you can;t afford it, maybe you should wait for the television release.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

I had the best experience when it was Madstone which was one version before the dollar theater. I loved having the independent films shown there and usually one of the employees stood in front and introduced it before it started. Great times. I miss it.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

I would love to have movies back at the mall but that dollar place with broken seats and old movies was depressing and just lent to that whole dumpy atmosphere of Briarwood. Cheap movies are easy enough these days at home w/internet. Give me a nice movie theatre w/stadium seating with maybe an Imax thrown into the mix too!


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.

Also, several people have mentioned the kiosks. I don't think the kiosks per se are the problem; rather, it's the aggressive solicitation by kiosk employees. No, I'm not interested in hand lotion. No, I don't want your Asian massage. No, I don't need to replace my shower. This goes for aggressive store employees too (Teavana), who hawk their good to you like you're at a Turkish bazaar.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 11:53 p.m.

I love tea but I HATE going to Teavana! You'll find less pushy sales people at used car lots.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.

Ho-hum! It was an 'on the cheap" renovation ten years ago to be followed by what is sounding to be another "on the cheap" renovation. I am however happy to hear about the new play area, the current one is pathetic. It looks like something one might expect to find in a poor 3rd world country and ditto on the kiosks. As for my personal "mall experience" looks like I will continue on with my usual drive out 14 to anyplace but Briarwood.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

Wish they'd bring back the water features in the center that they had in the late 90's/early 2000's.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:53 a.m.

Yes, I was hoping someone would mention the fountains. Yes, bring them back please.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.

They were there in the 80's, as well. I did not even realize that they were gone! (Shows how much I get out there.) The fountains were really neat. That's too bad that they have gotten rid of them.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:53 p.m.

If the kiosks in the middle of the hallway could also be removed, that would be greatly appreciated!!!


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 11:22 p.m.

Unfortunately, that is not going to happen anytime soon.

Ashley Zimmerman

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

hurray for updates made to the children's area! I know a lot of moms that go to the mall in the winter to let the kids play someplace warm and get out of the house. Every time I walk by it I feel bad for the kids and the moms - BORINGGG. Someday soon I imagine wanting to use that space as well. Kudos!

Ashley Zimmerman

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 5:32 a.m.

Atticus F: I think you're wronging assuming that families aren't already doing that (spending ample time outdoors playing). Having an indoor option in the winter has always been a necessity for families. Sometimes it's crafts at the kitchen table, sometimes it's going to the library for story-time, sometimes it's going to the McDonalds playpit... Why shouldn't the mall serve the community in this way, too? Also, we have thousands of people in Ann Arbor living in Apartments who have no yards and the parents freeze their butts off going to the parks and playgrounds (so do the kids) some days. Should there be no indoor play options in the dead of winter? To say that the mall shouldn't consider serving families, (esp. because women bring the most business to these stores), is ridiculous. A mall is a gathering place. Who cares how? You're right, the mall should not serve the community or gather people in quality, interactive ways. It should only be a mecca for materialism.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

Loveaduck--With a children's area one is still required to oversee their own children. It is not a drop-off center. Even an upscale mall, which Briarwood clearly is not, can be family friendly. A children's area can be a draw for families who may also shop and eat while they are there. My children are now well grown but I don't understand the hostility to providing place for little ones to enjoy a respite from shopping anymore than I would begrudge a comfortable resting spot for someone of my age.

Atticus F.

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:04 p.m.

You should be taking your kids to play outside, not complaining that they have no indoor play area. When we were kids we would build snowmen, go sledding, and make snow forts... the concept of being shuttled to the mall so children don't experience cold weather is currently whats wrong in our country.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.

Why does a hopefully upscale public area have a responsibility to take care of YOUR kids?

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

Funny that you mention that - when we got to the mall at 9:45 this morning, there was a group of moms with strollers walking around the mall and hanging out with their kids.

Paula Gardner

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

@Lizzy, do you have any dollar value for the work yet? Curious to see what it is. And any word on parking lot changes? Those spaces - unused except for the busiest day or two of the year - seem ripe for redevelopment. The mall flirts with that when it sets up those trailer donation centers or temporary garden centers. I also have to believe that Sears is bigger than necessary and could be subdivided into smaller spaces with exterior access ... which could be a high-traffic restaurant location. (Like the Cheesecake Factor a commenter suggested)

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

I think there is something coming on the parking lot. Hendrix and Murray said there was nothing to announce "at this time," but implies they've got some plans in the works. The renovation has been on the table for 2.5 years, so my guess is they are working on several other changes at this time as well.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

Paula, that has been added to the story: representatives declined to comment on the cost. No word on parking lot changes but I'm checking...


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

Briarwood's management really needs to recognize how much shoppers hate the kiosks with pushy staff. I don't mean "mildly dislike," I mean HATE. That behavior detracts from the shopping experience.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

I love when they see a person with a bunch of bags or kids/strollers and walking at a very fast pace and say "do you have a minute..". Does it look like i have a minute, fool?


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8 p.m.

And how much people hate the perfume from Abercrombie that fills the entire hall...

Tyrone Shoelaces

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:43 p.m.

I haven't been able to put a word on it, other than "cheesy," but yes, "flea market" does it.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 6:53 p.m.

Sometimes it feels like a fleamarket at Briarwood...


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

You have beautiful do you get it so straight? ...I was born with straight hair...


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.

Excuse me Ma'am, are you happy with how moisturized your hands are?


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:28 p.m.

@Ben: The idea that the Kiosks support small business start ups, or is a place for businesses to try "new concepts" is absurd. Everything for sale in the kiosks is corporate chain store crap. Hair accessories, cell phone accessories, crappy body jewelry, mediocre overpriced "beauty products," I think there's an ink refill station. Designer imposter sun glasses. Keep trinkets imported from China. Perhaps the management meant to say "it's a great way to get triple net" on a space the size of a bathroom.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

I had the same reaction as "dancing..." More selectivity regarding who gets to have a kiosk could address some of the problems with them. If they really were small vendors trying out new concepts, with a focus on local (regional) folks then they would be much more interesting.

Ben Freed

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

Dancing, While many of the kiosks are chains, Ida Hendrix did point out a few that our individual vendors, one selling roasted nuts and another that will be opening shortly selling teas. And thanks for the clarification!


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

Just to clarify Ben, my negativity isn't directed at you or the article. :)


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

I would like to state that I am painting my townhouse basement this spring -- its a major renovation. I shall also put new lighting in the bedrooms upstairs, because the bulbs have burned holes through the shades. While the townhouse has aged gracefully, it needs a fresh coat of paint and some new lighting to really transform it into something special. That is all.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 6:50 p.m.

Please make sure to kick out the kiosks from your basement also!


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

If you add some flower boxes, you could call a press conference.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:05 p.m.

Alright, Halter - we are majorly impressed. Now don't forget to invite important dignitaries for your marketing exposure and all - important free advertising :) !

Paula Gardner

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

I was wondering if there was going to be major new construction - or even an anchor tenant change.

Stupid Hick

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 3:18 a.m.

Aha, if anyone else wonders about the dollar value, keep reading the comments.

Stupid Hick

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 3:15 a.m.

I wonder if basic information such as how much they plan to spend on improvements is publicly-known.

Anthony Clark

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:58 a.m.

I can't remember the las time I bought anything from JCP or Sears. I think I was still in high school. I'm over 40 now.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:51 a.m.

I don't see Penneys going anywhere any time soon. Sears and Penneys have been competing for years. Von Maur can go away. I hate their clothes and can't afford anything they have to offer. Get rid of expensive big box stores. Now Macy does offer cheap clothes.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

IMO Sears is a HUUUGE waste of space. But that's just me.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:25 p.m.

Mall representatives aren't talking about it yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if JC Penney closed and space was divided so it's no longer a big anchor. It seems like there's value in that.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

Good thought Paula. With both Sears and JCP on the ropes these anchors will probably be cut loose.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Yeah, this kind of sounds like non-news. I am not trying to say that you guys covered something that shouldn't have been, but the Simon Property Group sure did create a lot of hype for not a lot.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

I don't consider new doors, a few shrubs, toilets, paint, and seats. A "major renovation plan".


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 5:24 a.m.

And they arent even fixing the curbs, service roads, and parking lots ! They have potholes as big as the sink holes in Florida.

Anthony Clark

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:56 a.m.

Yeah, it's kinda like Campbell's soup coming out with a new label. Oh goody, the new cans have arrived!


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

Right - this is a just a facelift and a pretty minor one at that.

Ben Freed

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

Kiosks will not change as part of the renovation. Mall manager Ida Hendrix said they continually look to improve them and that they are "great ways for new business owners to try out their concepts." They are not going anywhere for the time being. This renovation will be focused on brick and mortar changes, as well as some cosmetic/facelift type actions.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:48 p.m.

Which big mall within 30 miles do you go to that doesn't have kiosks? 12 Oaks does.

Tyrone Shoelaces

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:41 p.m.

"I would be interesting to know why they are ignoring so much animosity about the kiosks. They are obviously a money-maker for the mall" I think you just answered your own question.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

Ben: I would be interesting to know why they are ignoring so much animosity about the kiosks. They are obviously a money-maker for the mall, but does the owner understand how many customers they drive away? Have they ever bothered to research the issue? To me, this will never be a first-rate mall because of the kiosks. I will drive 30 miles out of town to avoid it. I would like to know if they are worried about that, because I know I am not the only one who has ditched the mall because of the aggressive kiosk workers.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.

The kiosks are nothing but obnoxious. They need to go!


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

If the kiosks stay, I will spend my money someplace else.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

Personally, I'd like to see a second story added to the mall, and, as far as kiosks are concerned - maybe a "Mark's Carts" style area where we can keep them. :)


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

The same flooring covers that place as it did when they built it. Briarwood needs to become a destination. There is no where to eat there, minus the usual Chipotle and CPK. Get a Cheesecake Factory to come to Briarwood, and you'll have a lot more foot traffic.

Anthony Clark

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:54 a.m.

Briarwood needs a true food court like virtually every other mall I've ever been in has.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 9:32 p.m.

Olga's is still there. Overpriced and mediocre service, though. Still, the snackers are yummy. We miss Kerby's for inexpensive-but-edible food.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

Is there still an Olgas in the mall?


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:25 p.m.

What is this obsession with Cheesecake Factory? Bleah.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

Without a second story it'll never be a Laurel Park mall. Just another second rate mall.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 10:17 p.m.

A second story is ridiculous,. I HATE malls with second stories and here is why. Go to Twelve Oaks and you can SEE the store you want to go to, but you need to traverse up and aroound through a maze to get to that store. It is even worse at Fairlane (both built at the same time by Taubman).


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 9:21 p.m.

12 oaks is what I meant. Got them mixed up when I was typing.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

pwned by 12 oaks!


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.

I think you meant 12 Oaks Mall. Laurel Park is a small single story mall out on Six Mile.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

lol pwned by laurel park


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

Um, Laurel Park is also only a single it is a Laurel Park mall...


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

You have not aged gracefully. Sorry.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

Oh it's been time for a facelift for awhile. The mall has the same floor, and the same bathrooms, as when I was a child and my dad took me there to run around in the winter time. More then 3 decades ago. Compared to malls in other towns Briarwood is embarrassing. And for the love of all things good, dump the kiosks.

Ben Freed

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

It's been 10 years since the last renovation, so Simon Mall execs said it was about time for a facelift.

Tyrone Shoelaces

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

Get rid of the kiosks. They add a major cheese factor and they're just in the way.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:49 a.m.

They had one years ago. Got rid of it because it did not add ambiance to the mall. Alpine was I believe the name of it. Loved that store. Now all it is is clothing and junk. Bring back the food stores.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:46 p.m.

They won't get rid of them. They're at all the big malls now. Also, I'm at Briarwood almost weekly and I very rarely am approached. Maybe yall look like you need their help! ; 7 )


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

That, or prevent aggressive solicitation from kiosk employees.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

Interesting, but I hope they also address the experience of shopping there. The incessant spray of cologne (coming out of clothing stores, especially Abercrombie & Fitch) and accosting of kiosk employees makes it intolerable. If they can adequately assess and resolve those issues, I will come back!


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:48 a.m.

Yeah, but that one store with half naked men? O yeah, that does make my experience all that more enjoyable. Can't think of the name of the store though. Looks jungle like.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

I've never been accosted by carnival barkers at Twelve Oaks or Somerset. I try to avoid Briarwood because of the pushy kiosk salespeople. When I do go there, I do not make eye contact or respond to their rudeness.

Andy T

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

I'm with Phiggy, and a lot of the other commenters here... I detest the kiosks. After getting completely harassed by a kiosk renter, I wrote Briarwood's management about it. They said that kiosk owners are not supposed to harass pedestrians. But apparently they often ignore this, or Briarwood doesn't enforce it. If Briarwood made it a priority to make sure shoppers knew they didn't have to be harassed by junk hockers, and followed through on it, it wouldn't be as bad. (They don't have to use the term 'junk hockers' of course...maybe 'Alternate Market Merchants'?) Now, the image problem that having all that junk clogging the main aisles portrays is Briarwood's problem. It's like a mini 'Gibralter Trade Center' out there...and that is NOT a compliment.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

Good call. The perfume is my biggest reason for not stepping foot within the mall in the last few years.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

Seriously. It's gotten to the point where the men hawking hair straighteners and hand creams take one step toward me and I just keep walking and say "NOPE!"

Ben Freed

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

Mall manager Ida Hendrix said kiosks will remain a part of the mall, but that they are "continually looking to improve" them.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

I guess I was hoping they'd make it bigger.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

Me too. A second story would make things interesting.

John Tuttle

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

New restrooms? Hallelujah! The dingy, cramped, smelly men's restrooms have always been my least favorite part of my shopping experience.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

Yeah I just wish part of the improvements meant one or two more mall restrooms...there are only 2 right?


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:19 p.m.

I always go to the Von Maur restrooms.

Ben Freed

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

A Simon Mall exec said the restrooms were perhaps the most underrated part of the whole thing. A vital part of the shopping experience.