Downtown's 'Fritz Building' on corner of Liberty and Main to get new look
What’s the best corner in downtown Ann Arbor?
Many in Ann Arbor real estate circles say the intersection of South Main and Liberty still holds that honor (though State and Liberty is coming on strong).
Paula Gardner | AnnArbor.com
Today, the building houses Occasionally Gifts. But, since the store will be leaving the space by summer, building owners Jim and John Curtis plan to activate a plan approved in 2008 to add two separate bay windows on the Liberty Street side of the building.
One window will be 8 feet wide; the other 16 feet. Together, they’ll serve to improve visibility for the next tenant and also improve the pedestrian experience on that block.
“We felt confident that the project would improve the overall look of the building at this important downtown intersection,” John Curtis told me in a detailed email in response to my questions.
“ We also believe that this tasteful enhancement of the property will stimulate general business and benefit nearby retailers.”
The designs for the project were done byKelly/Tinker & Archiopolis Architects of Ann Arbor. And after its under way, the work should take about one month to complete.
There’s just a small sign advertising the change on the Liberty side of the building.
But downtown property owners agreed with me that the change will result in a big change on this key downtown corner.
“It’s like windows to the world on Liberty,” said Ed Shaffran, speaking to the activity and vitality of the corner.
He pointed to the building on the southeast corner as an example of how windows can change the pedestrian experience: Selo/Shevel Gallery, which rotates its inventory in the windows, giving visual treats to passers by.
“I think it will be a wonderful improvement,” Shaffran said.
But this is the corner that pushed the market about 8 years ago after renovations to the building now home to Starbucks Coffee.
“Main Street is one of the jewels of Ann Arbor,” Curtis wrote, adding that Main and Liberty is an “undeniably important intersection.”
Meanwhile, the store at the corner of the building is 1,300 square feet, plus full basement.
“Though we have had inquiries about this retail space, we have not yet selected a new tenant,” Curtis said.
One option that isn’t being considered: Restaurants.
There are “many existing food choices already on Main Street,” Curtis said. “ It is our desire to create the best mix of businesses.”