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Posted on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Ex-Borders redevelopment will bring restaurants, retail and office space to downtown Ann Arbor

By Lizzy Alfs


A rendering by Hobbs + Black shows the redeveloped Borders building in downtown Ann Arbor, viewed from Maynard Street.

Photo from

Three weeks after the last Borders sign was removed from the former flagship store, a major renovation is under way at the downtown Ann Arbor building.

Oakland County developer Ron Hughes of Hughes Properties said the building at the corner of East Liberty and Maynard streets is being subdivided into five restaurant and retail spaces on the first floor, with contemporary office space on the second floor.

“The Borders building is such a high profile and important location for the city,” Hughes said. “I think the city and residents will be very proud of the retrofit of the building.”


The last Borders bookstore sign was removed from the former flagship store in December.

Daniel Brenner | file photo

Borders vacated the two-story, 44,000-square-foot building in September 2011, and Hughes, also the developer behind the Landmark student high-rise, acquired long-term rights to redevelop the space in May 2012.

“There will be a really different look to the whole building,” Hughes said.

Windows are being installed on the exterior and each first-floor tenant will have its own entrance. Although Hughes considered a building addition or a rooftop deck, he said the plan is just to renovate the existing structure.

He expects renovations will be completed and the businesses will open in late summer 2013. The building’s listing broker, Colliers International's Ann Arbor office, is in various stages of negotiations for about 80 percent of the building, Hughes said. Tenants also are expressing interest in the 20,000-square-foot basement.

The asking rental rate for the first-floor is an annual $45 per square foot and the asking rate for the second-floor is an annual $24 per square foot, according to marketing materials.

“We believe, prior to the building being completed, it will be 100 percent occupied. The demand has been just far beyond our expectations. Inquiries on the building just continue; it’s been excellent,” he said.

Hughes declined to reveal the names of possible tenants, but said two companies with Ann Arbor offices are negotiating for space on the second floor.

“It’s such a buzz building,” he said.

Right next door to the former Borders retail building, Barracuda Networks recently moved hundreds of employees to a 45,000-square-foot space that was once used for Borders’ offices. Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

the old passes to the new.UNFORTUNATELY

Patty Maher

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

There are enough fast-food restaurants downtown. I agree a bookstore would be nice especially since the Shaman Drum and other bookstores have left the neighborhood in addition to Borders. A fresh-pressed juice bar and healthy smoothie place would be nice. A flower shop/card shop would be good too. It's sad to see the Borders sign leave the building. It would be nice if the architects and designers could leave something from the Borders era to mark a special time in the city's history.

Jay Thomas

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

I'm so relieved, I thought there might not be any new restaurants....

Robert D. Mosley

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:27 a.m.

I guess this is good news for Ann Arbor, but as time passes, I really miss Border's. Going to grad school in Ann Arbor and going to Borders was such an experience. Maybe another Book Store would not be bad. I do not miss the emptiness of the space so let's hope for the future.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:38 a.m.

I used to make it to the campus area frequently --- usually to visit Borders (and to buy a book, or two, or three). On those visits to campus, I generally ate at a nearby restaurant and frequently spent some money at some other establishment. Since Borders' demise, my visits to the area have been quite infrequent. I can't imagine being lured back by proposed alternatives to Borders. "Just an observation."

original perp

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:30 a.m.

Wonder what OSHA would say about the worker standing on the guard rail while removing the last Borders sign?

Dr. Libert

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.



Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:12 p.m.

They might actually be able to afford the rental rate.

music to my ear

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:02 p.m.

hooters who? not in ann arbor you know better than that A2 wont approve BUt my hubby would.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 9:07 p.m.

Beat me to it!

Top Cat

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

So much for my idea of using the space for Roller Derby.

music to my ear

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

I think it is great that they are utilizing the building, in such a way it gives the people choices , maybe a gluten free only store would be nice. there is a big market now for gluten free. what ever goes in I hope it is successful good luck.

David Cahill

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

Great news for us!


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

Lordy, please tell me they're not putting a huge 'offices' sign in/on it! We're a smart bunch. We can handle a little ambiguity!


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 6:56 p.m.

That was the first thing I noticed, and it ranks right up there with those dumb "art" bikeracks.

An Arborigine

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 1 a.m.

Perhaps Hobbs & Black should update their software?


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

Good luck turning a profit at $45 per square foot.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

This is terrible I hate development and when things are improved etc.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

Great - I'm excited to see what we get. On a side note, I truly hope none of those new businesses include a new pizza joint.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

Ha! My coworker, who lives in the William/Division area, counted that he has 10 or more pizza places within a 10 minute walk from his apartment.

An Arborigine

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

Does this city really need more restaurants? At $45 per square foot, you can bet the tenants will not be discounters.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

I thought a grocery store would have fit nicely there. But with these subdivisions, that now seems unlikely...


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 4:36 p.m.

With the greater amount of people living downtown and younger people losing interest in driving, a grocery store would do well. Babo, Sparrow in Kerrytown & People's Food Co-op could use a little competition and a grocer with a different selection would compliment the community well. Ann Arbor needs to more than a giant restaurant. The future belongs to those who cater to others besides the boomers.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

The last small grocery store we had - White Market - couldn't keep up. I shopped there on a non-infrequent basis. The food was not as fresh as what you could get from Meijers; it was more expensive, and the selection was highly limited. No thanks to the small grocery store - this isn't Manhattan.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

I want a cheesecake factory!, seriously lol.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

I'm pretty sure the Cheesecake Factory hates Michigan, which is ironic because they were started here ... they tried to get a location in Troy near the mall but were denied a liquor license. Whenever I'm traveling out-of-state and they have a CF I make sure to go! :)

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

Readers: What would you like to see open on the first-floor?


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

If a national chain is all that can afford to go in there, how about A&W?

Steve Bean

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:08 p.m.

I'd like to see five restaurant and retail businesses, given that the developer says that's what the space is intended for. The likely alternative is fewer than five, with space left vacant. Whatever does open, I'd prefer that it be locally owned and operated and stay open for more than a year.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

powell's books


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.

Produce Station.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 6:47 p.m.

Jacobsons. If not Jake's, then Trader Joe's.

Paula Gardner

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

A downtown Barry Bagels would be delightful!


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

Probably another chain pizza place. Not enough of those down town. I like the Rite Aid idea too.

Lynn Liston

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

A bookstore. I so miss being able to forage Borders while waiting for a movie at the Michigan. And a low-decibel place for grownups to dine.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 5:06 p.m.

Anthropologie! Please!


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

With CVS and an impending Walgreen's a block away, isn't the answer obvious? RITE-AID! Seriously, some sort of everyday market (i.e., not over-priced gourmet foo-foo like Babo) would be nice, but I'm sure the rent price will keep that from happening.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 3:17 p.m.


Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

David: Rumor is Lululemon is opening in Arbor Hills Crossing on Washtenaw.

David Barsan

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

I wonder if that is where Lululemon is going to be opening their store....


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

I'll miss Borders, but I won't miss the empty storefront. Good luck with the new businesses.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

I want another bookstore. Just a little, local bookstore? A place to meet a few authors? A place to browse when I'm in town?

Detached Observer

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 10:58 p.m.

Somebody somewhere needs to sell MAGAZINES downtown.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

That will give the used bookstore a run for its money. But it has weathered other bookstores as well.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

I'm guessing Borders lost money nationally, but that store was always full. Nicola's is my go-to now, but when I'm down town--before or after dinner, before or after a show, whenever--wouldn't it be nice to browse? Aren't books what this town is all about?


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.

If you like mysteries, then Aunt Agatha's on 4th already does all this.

Matt Lang

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

I like Barnes and Noble better, free parking, and i can get a snack at Whole Foods later.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

You're in luck. An independent bookstore is opening on Washington and Fourth.

Boo Radley

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

Go to Nicola's Books, oldlocal. It is just what you describe.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

Sorry Oldlocal, if you want to browse you'll have to go to the library. Amazon clobbered Borders because people didn't buy enough books at their store.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Great News! Can't wait!!!


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:17 a.m.

Along with Borders I will dearly miss in A2 Kenny Rogers Restaurant and Dunkin Donuts:(

Mitzi P

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 7:52 p.m.

There used to be a Dunkin' Donuts in Ann Arbor? ! That's the one thing I think is missing from the campus periphery! Can't stand all these college students taking out all these loans then chuggin' down a $5 cup of coffee. As I was reading the story, I thought, " wouldn't it be great if there was a DD in that building". Never knew there had been one.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 5:18 p.m.

I'm not everyone is sure you're doing satire. That's always the way!


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

Thought that location was a Dom's Bakery


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

Nice sarcasm, Susan. Well deployed!


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

Yep ,Dunkins donuts should have held on to that spot they had for years, now Main/Liberty.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

:) :) :)


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

SIgh, put Borders on the list of great AA things gone by along with The Quality Bakery and The WhiffleTree.