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Posted on Mon, May 13, 2013 : 11:01 a.m.

Demolition time: Georgetown Mall redevelopment set to begin

By Ben Freed


Construction equipment in the parking lot of the vacant Georgetown Mall. Demolition is scheduled to begin this week.

Melanie Maxwell |

Permits have been approved and construction equipment has arrived for the tearing down of the former Georgetown Mall on Packard Road in Ann Arbor.

The demolition, more than three years in the making, will proceed with the help of a $1 million grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment coordinator Nathan Voght said in a press release that activity at the site is scheduled to begin this week. After the buildings and parking lots are torn down, environmental remediation work will need to be completed to ensure that the property can be safely re-used. Voght said the entire process is scheduled to be completed by the end of July.

“Once we finish the demolition there’s soil remediation, site restoration, and grading it back to a relatively flat level,” he said in an interview Monday morning.

“That would wrap up the grant work that the county is involved in, and then the property would be solely the developer’s responsibility.”

The primary contractor for the demolition is Wayne-based Environmental Quality Company. The company has two contracts, one with the county for the grant-funded work, and the other with developer Craig Schubiner through holding company PSAA LLC to do clean-up work that the MEDQ deemed to be the responsibility of the site’s owner.

“We’ve been ready to go with our contract, but we have had to wait until the developer had his ducks in a row to begin the demolition,” Voght said.

“He’s responsible for the core contaminated area, about 880 tons of soil, and then the grant pays for anything beyond that up to 2,500 tons of soil.”

Washtenaw County first secured the $1 million grant in 2012 to assist with the demolition of the property.

The development of the space into a mixed-use project called Packard Square has been in the works since January 2011.

Schubiner originally intended to break ground on the project, which includes 230 apartments and 23,790 square-feet of retail space, in August 2011.

Original development plans started years earlier, prior to Kroger closing in 2009. Efforts for earlier redevelopment stalled during the economic downturn as the property faced tax foreclosure following bankruptcy of a lender.

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Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2


J. Letaw

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 7:12 p.m.

From the asphalt desert to bulldozers to the shiny rendering: I'm really looking forward to seeing how this site unfolds -


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 6:25 p.m.

Hmmmmmm. I go past this eyesore every day on my way to work. Monday morning, I saw the construction equipment parked in the lot. That was the last time I saw it. the parking lot has now, for the last 2 days, NO construction equipment. What? Is? Going? On?


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

OK, before the haters bury me alive....yesterday(thursday, 5/16/13) I was going past G. mall I saw evidence of demolition going on. 'Scuse me while I duck!


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 11:52 p.m.

Speed bumps are needed on Page with all the new apartments going up.

sandy schopbach

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

It's about time. Being a local, I was sorry to see the shops close. Not sure if I'm happy about what might go in there. We don't need a lot of students out here, changing the family and retiree atmosphere, but these decaying buildings will not be missed, now that they're just an eyesore. We'll see if the developer finally has his financial ducks in a row.

Jay Thomas

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 4:45 a.m.

Did Schubiner pay the back taxes himself... or was it the new lender? He is lucky to not have had this auctioned off because of the lender bankruptcy. His Bloomfield project was a total disaster and the biggest eyesore in that county.


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 12:20 a.m.

OMG! Heck finally froze!


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 12:52 a.m.

Just a frost. If anything ever gets built there by the current developer, then heck will have certainly frozen over.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 10:35 p.m.

Glad to hear it will be leveled off. I have fond memories of chasing grocery carts down the "ski ramp" parking lot.


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

so do I. Ride 'em, cowboy!!!


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

Has Craig Schubiner obtained funding for his development? He had difficulty with insufficient funding with a previous project that ended up in bankruptcy while being only half constructed. I hope that Packard Square will not experience a similar fate.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 6:39 p.m.

Interesting that the demolition will occur at the same time as the roadwork on of that section of Packard (is that still happening?), I guess maybe its a good thing for nearby residents, to be dealing with all the noise and trucks once?

John of Saline

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 5:34 p.m.

Two former Krogers will now be vacant lots: this one and the one near the Kellogg Eye Hospital (Broadway). Did they fail? I don't get it; both locations have lots of residents around that could support the store. With Georgetown, the building was a liability; was that also true at Broadway?


Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 8:11 a.m.

Just go in the Kroger at S Industrial.

Ann English

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 12:24 a.m.

UM Hospital employees shopped at that Broadway Kroger; it was very convenient.I think the drycleaning business was Armen Cleaners. The scrapyard was Israel Friedman's, between Maiden Lane and Wall. I remember bringing him scrap copper. I think it was in the late 1980s that Wright & Filippis was located in an outlot, north of the Kroger store on Broadway. They didn't broadcast radio ads then, so Filippis was mispronounced fi-LIP-eez by the person referring me to Wright & Filippis. That location cannot compare with the nice, conspicuous location on Washtenaw. FILL-i-pis is the right pronunciation.

John of Saline

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 6:15 p.m.

I just can't imagine there's no market for a grocery store there, walking distance from a boatload of apartments.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 6:06 p.m.

Wow worst typo post for me ever! S/B "Mana stood alone as a block and timber frame structure." "Then came the "Lowertown" purchase, which included the houses, scrap metal yard and drycleaner at the foot of Broadway."


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

No the Kroger building was fine, as were the outlot buildings. It was a brick structure. Mana stood alone it as block and timber frame. The Kroger moved to a new facility and was torn down to make way for a Rite-Aid type building, half of which stood empty. The the "Lowertown" purchase, which included the houses, scrap metal yard and drycleaner at the foot of Broadway. The drycleaner and the scrap metal yard qualified the lot as a greenfield, if I remember correctly. Then there was a series of public/UM/private plans, some shifting zoning, and a development failure.

Jack Eaton

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

This is good news, finally. It is unfortunate that our City zoning and planning have led to the destruction of a Kroger grocery store on this site and at the bottom of Broadway hill. Let's hope that something more happens with the Georgetown site than the field of "wildflowers" that now occupies the Broadway Street site. Nonetheless, an empty lot is preferable to the blight that these buildings have become.

Ann English

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 12:11 a.m.

Jack, it sounds like traffic on Kensington and Marlborough would be even more congested if they were through streets instead of the dead-end streets they are. There would be parking space, but little drive-through space. I was thinking that residents of The Pond could cross Packard at Pine Valley as it is. And residents behind Packard Square could get there on foot as easily as they got to Georgetown Mall.

Jack Eaton

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 8:44 p.m.

When I said that zoning and planning led to the destruction of this store, I meant that the promotion of high density development encouraged developers to plan schemes such as this one and the one in Lowertown which were highly leveraged but potentially highly profitable. Thus, two viable neighborhood grocery stores were purchased by real estate speculators who planned to replace the current stores. Because the developments were highly speculative and came just before the real estate bubble burst, the old tenants were pushed out but the new buildings were not built. The stores were destroyed by pie in the sky plans encouraged by our visionary planners and leaders. If our zoning and planning encouraged reuse and restoration rather than demolition and new construction, we would still have both of those neighborhood Kroger stores.

Tom Teague

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

I did go back and read some of the archived articles, and never found one in which Craig Schubiner or Kroger blamed the then-approved site plan for the failure of the store to re-build on the site. I believe your revised take on what happened is more accurate than your initial post which blamed the "destruction" of the store on zoning and planning.

Jack Eaton

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

Our zoning and planning efforts have encouraged redevelopment of existing shopping centers such as the Lowertown site on Broadway and the Georgetown site addressed in this article. The City Council either allows developers to develop under a PUD site plan, in disregard of applicable zoning, or it changes the zoning, such as the Area, Height and Placement amendments to the code which encourage dense, multi-use buildings. In the planning process, the City offers developers of these grand and speculative schemes subsidies such as the brownfield TIF to encourage massive, dense projects. The Kroger in the Georgetown Mall did not fail, it was pushed out of the location after a developer bought the property. When that developer and Kroger could not reach terms on renting space in the new development, Kroger withdrew from that site. The Georgetown Kroger was a very busy and successful store. The economic downturn did not cause Kroger to fail, but it did cause the first development plan for the Georgetown site to fail.

Tom Teague

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

I was asking about this statement that you made "It is unfortunate that our City zoning and planning have led to the destruction of a Kroger grocery store on this site. . ." The Kroger closed in 2009 in the midst of a massive economic downturn that froze capital needed for expansion and modernization across the country. I think blaming local "planning and zoning" may be giving a little too much weight to those effects while overlooking the recession.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

I miss the Krogers on Broadway, but most people I know like the field of flowers just fine. Since almost all of the other views around town are disappearing, at least this represents a little open space, for a little longer, I hope.

Jack Eaton

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Our City Council and Planning Commission have been promoting high density, multi-use development. This development was made "viable" through the use of government subsidies, such as the brownfield TIF. Without the relaxed zoning and the subsidies, this area might still have a grocery store on this site. The Georgetown Mall was an excellent neighborhood shopping center. The Council's desire for dense development led to efforts that encourage huge residential buildings with inadequate parking. The plan for this site includes some retail space, but it will be for high-end boutique shops, not a full service grocery. When this site hosted the Kroger, the drug store, the post office branch and a gift shop, it was part of a nice, walkable neighborhood. If the developer completes his plan, the massive building will overwhelm neighboring homes and the inadequate parking will cause congestion on nearby streets. If the developer fails to fulfill his promises, yet again, the site will be vacant. Either way, I do not see an improvement over the previous shopping center.

Tom Teague

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 5:17 p.m.

Exactly how did zoning and planning cause existing businesses to close and/or relocate at Georgetown Mall?


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

Finally..Thank You!!!

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

"Once we finish the demolition there's soil remediation, site restoration, and grading it back to a relatively flat level," So, about another six years and $20 million from taxpayers before any construction can begin?

Ben Freed

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

No Nicholas, that entire process is scheduled to be completed by the end of July. And there is no further taxpayer assistance past the $1 million state grant. Ben


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

So it sounds like all that is going to happen for sure at this time is the demolition. Which is a great if not long overdue outcome.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

If a site plan has not been approved and all permits for construction have been pulled how can demolition proceed? Is the demolition being done by the city or the county independent of any planned development? If so, would it be more accurate to say that the $1 million MEDQ grant is being provided to the city or the county expressly for demolition and remediation?

Ben Freed

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

Brad, You're 100% correct. The current permits that have been approved are for the demolition. There are additional permits on file that deal with the redevelopment of the property but those have not been approved by the city yet.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

Which politicians will be there to turn this in to a photo-op?

Ann English

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

Politicians shovel gravel? Ypsilanti mayor Paul Schreiber comes to mind, photographed last week for a Water Street article, I think.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

Nice Tom! But that is a job that is earned. I'd rather see the politicians shovel gravel.

Tom Teague

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

If they can operate those excavators, I'd welcome any of them.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

hopefully a couple of restaurants will go in there (maybe an expansion opportunity for Eat?); this area of town is really lacking in non-fast food (or maybe better, more interesting local take-away) options.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

I'm looking forward to this project moving forward!


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

Finally! This is such a great area to live; it's a really quite part of town which is hard to find in Ann Arbor. We really need a grocery store and a restaurant!

Ann English

Tue, May 14, 2013 : 12:01 a.m.

Nicholas didn't mention drugstores, but I do remember talking to a Rite Aid employee at Georgetown Mall telling me about where they were moving: Packard and Platt. I've shopped there since the move. Accessible from both Platt and Rosedale. That Kroger at S. Industrial moved in while the Georgetown Mall Kroger was open. I am drawn to some of the Family Dollar ad prices and if they did move into Packard Square, It might be a convenience; no Dollar Trees are anywhere near there and there's a lot of traffic and traffic lights between the new Greenback dollar store and the new Packard Square.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

Be careful what you wish for. There are restaurants at packard and platt, and up near eisenhower. And the kroger at stadium is plenty close.

Tom Teague

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

It was a real joy seeing the equipment there this morning.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 5:34 p.m.

Yes Tom, hopefully the equipment won't sit TOO long....


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

Keep your fingers crossed for a Family Dollar store!


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 12:19 a.m.

That is a definite guarantee. Every district needs one.

Hugh Giariola

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

Just like Ypsi!


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

You're really going to endear yourself to a lot of Ann Arborites, UpperDecker.


Mon, May 13, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

To attract tourism to the area?