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Posted on Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 5:55 a.m.

Investor buys historical Washington Square building in downtown Ann Arbor

By Paula Gardner

The 7-story Washington Square building in downtown Ann Arbor building was sold this week to an investor who plans renovations to the property over the next year.

The property - located at 200 E. Washington - is a 24,000-square-foot building on the southeast corner of South Fourth Avenue that was built in the 1920s.


A rendering of Washington Square from Amvest's leasing web site.


The buyer is Cameron Holdings LLC, which is registered to Robert Evans of Okemos, according to state records.

Evans is a private buyer, said Jason Costello of Cabrio Properties of Ann Arbor, and not part of a partnership.

Cabrio will manage and lease the building, Costello said.

The previous owner was 200 E. Washington LLC, which purchased the 7-story, 25,392-square-foot building for $3.1 million in April 2005. It was managed by Amvest.

The previous owner group - led by local investor Jerry Spears - was sued in 2008 by TCF Bank, which said they owed $3.04 million in principal and fees on loans connected to the property.

The building is considered a downtown landmark. It has three ground-floor retail spaces, including Metro PCS and Sottini's, and upper level small office spaces.

Those offices are significant for downtown, Costello said.

"This building provides some excellent opportunities for small businesses to get great office space in the heart of downtown," he said. "And the higher floors have sweeping views."

The property is assessed at $1.38 million, giving it an estimated market value of $2.76 million. County records as of Wednesday show that it has an unpaid 2011 tax bill of $15,926 due on Aug. 30.

The recent purchase price was not available.

Cabrio will be starting a year-long renovation plan for the building. Work - which started a few years ago, but slowed - will include replacing two elevators.

From a news release: "(Cameron) will soon begin a renovation and rehabilitation program for the building and its clients. The new owners are committed to the building’s historical significance and will maintain its historical appeal while dramatically improving the overall condition of the building, its functionality and amenities."

"It's a special building and post-restoration it’s going to be exceptional," Costello said.

The building was designed by Ypsilanti architect Ralph Stevens (R.S.) Gerganoff. It first was known as the Ypsi-Ann building, then the Wolverine Building, according to an Ann Arbor historical account.

Gerganoff also was the architect for what's now the Beer Depot in Ann Arbor, in addition to several landmark buildings in Ypsilanti. Among them: the former Beyer Hospital; Pierce Hall and Jones Goddard Hall at Eastern Michigan University; and Estabrook, Chapelle and Ypsilanti Middle Schools.

See a collection of Gerganoff building photos.


Tom Teague

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

The linked page states that the building was opened in 1926 or 1927 (both dates are listed). It also said that the Beer Depot was once Harris Tire and was built in 1928. That overcame my surprise in learning that the BD was actually designed by an architect of some note.

rusty shackelford

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

Oh great. Another developer buys a historic building downtown. They're probably going to just put a HIGHRISE there. Wait...


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

Wonderful News! Very glad for the forward progress!

Dave Koziol

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

jcj, the building is almost entirely made up of small 200 or 400 sq ft offices. As a result it is full of lots of small professionals: Psychiatrists/psychologists, hair stylists, acupuncture, accountants, architects, and small businesses. It's a very cool building, and it's good news that it's going to get some renovations...


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

Thanks Dave. I have lived in Ann Arbor all my life but do not remember what was there in the 50's or 60's.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 11:57 a.m.

I can't seem to find any history for this Bldg. Anyone know what has been there over the years?