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Posted on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

East William building that houses The White Market, College Shoe Repair for sale

By Janet Miller

More change is in the wind for the high-traffic, high-rent south State Street retail corridor adjacent to the University of Michigan central campus.

A two-story building on East William Street that has housed The White Market and College Shoe Repair for decades has been placed up for sale with a list price of $2.5 million.

The building is owned through a partnership between the owners of the College Shoe Repair and the former owners of The White Market, said listing broker Jim Chaconas of Colliers International. The building went on the market earlier this month and has been shown a couple of times, he said.

While it’s a prime piece of retail property, the challenge will be the financing, made more difficult because the new owners will have to find tenants, Chaconas said.

“You can’t get financing without a tenant so you almost have to pay cash or be a user (where the purchaser uses the building).”

Still, it’s a hot property. “So little becomes available for sale in the area,” Chaconas said. “There’s a lot of traffic and it’s going to get even better. It has one of the highest rental rates in the city.”

Dave Jones.JPG

Dave Jones has owned The White Market since 1984. He hopes to continue operating the store after his lease expires next year.

Janet Miller | For

Dave Jones, owner of The White Market since 1984, said his lease does not expire until the end of 2011 and that he hopes to continue operating the small grocery after that. Chaconas said it will be up to the new owner of the building to negotiate terms of a new lease.

It’s a prime area for student traffic made even more attractive with the opening this fall of the University of Michigan’s North Quad and plans to build private Zaragon 2, a student housing high-rise, down the street. A number of new businesses are moving into the neighborhood: Pitaya clothing boutique opened on State Street last year and a Five Guys Burgers, a 7-Eleven, a Ragstock clothing store and a CVS are all in the pipeline.

The building up for sale, at 607-609 E. William St., has almost 6,500 square feet, with a cost of $385 per square foot. It has the two retail spaces on the ground floor and five student apartments above. It has 50 feet of frontage and was built in 1901. Leases in the area are running $35 to $40 a square foot, according to the listing. Rental rates for the former Ritz Camera building around the corner was listed at $35 per square foot for the entire building, or just under $200,000 per year. Smaller spaces on the street were listed for $40 per square foot.

'Lifestyles change and you change with it' Jones has been operating a piece of Ann Arbor history. The White Market has been selling groceries, produce and meats to townies and students at the East William Street location at least since the 1930s.

Jones bought the business, but not the building, in 1984. Over the years, he made some changes: He reconfigured the floor plan, added more convenience and organic foods, added a salad bar and eliminated having a butcher.

“Like everything else, people’s lifestyles change and you change with it,” Jones said.

But other things have remained the same: Jones has kept the produce cooler, which dates from 1939, along with two of the freezers. While the market still makes deliveries, they have dropped from about 30 a day to one or two a day. Jones has been in the small grocery business since he was a teen: He landed a job at the former Food and Drug Mart at Packard and Stadium in high school and stayed there until his mid-30s, when he bought The White Market. “I always wanted to work for myself,” he said.

And he still does. While 2009 was a lean year, sales have increased 8 percent in 2010. Jones said he wants to stay, even with a new owner. “I’m not ready to retire,” he said.


John Alan

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 10:01 p.m.

No matter how you cut and dice it, $2.5M will not happen.... According to the SEV the cash value is: about $1.0M. Doing the math if the $30/sqft rent NNN works, the value comes to $1.5M.... Paying $1.0M premium in this market with the new banking requirement is not going to happen. As far as cash offer is concerned, people can do and will do much better with $2.5M than buying little building and paying $1M premium for it. Anyway, good luck to the owner and I hope he gets his asking price.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 12:01 p.m.

Anne R. Your statement" I hope the city can find ways to keep this kind of diversity in its core." is the problem with Ann Arbor Downtown. The city should not be involved in the business selection process, it should simply get out of the way and let the "free market" decide the winnes and loosers.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 10:58 a.m.

I agree it would be nice to keep these businesses in place. However it can be very difficult to afford $30/sq.ft space, especially in the summer when the students are gone. Good luck to them both!

Anne R.

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 7:57 a.m.

I hope these two vintage shops will remain in place. State Street desperately needs to retain this last grocery store to enable students and faculty to buy fresh and convenience foods. The Fourth Ave Co-op is their next best bet but a bit too far for some. A recent visit to the White Market revealed a surprisingly wide range of fresh and frozen and deli food -- specialty items I don't find anywhere else! And what would we do without Campus Shoe Repair. I hope the city can find ways to keep this kind of diversity in its core. We need more than eateries and clothing boutiques.