You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Meijer outlot development: 3 national restaurants could open on Ann Arbor-Saline Road

By Lizzy Alfs


A Southfield-based real estate company is under contract to purchase the Meijer outlot properties on Ann Arbor-Saline Road.

Joseph Tobianski |

A Southfield-based real estate firm is under contract to purchase the Meijer outlot property on Ann Arbor-Saline Road, which could pave the way for a major development project.

Versa Development plans to purchase the properties fronting Meijer from the Grand Rapids-based grocery store chain, according to Meijer real estate manager Roger DeHoek.

Several parcels fronting the Pittsfield Township store were put on the market last year, after the township completed a redesign of its master plan. The redesign favors mixed-use development at the site off Ann Arbor-Saline Road, said Pittsfield Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal.

"The vision we have in the township…(is to) increase density through infill development, and our hope is to partner with existing developments to sort of promote that vision," Grewal said. "(This project) fits with that vision."

Michael Lippitt of Landmark Commercial, the broker who is marketing the outlot properties for lease, said development plans would include constructing three full-service restaurants and two retail/fast casual restaurant buildings.

“If all goes according to plan, we could have a couple (leases) signed by the end of January,” Lippitt said.

A berm currently separates the Meijer parking lot and Ann Arbor-Saline Road, which extends from Oak Valley Drive to Lohr Road. A total of five buildings would be constructed along that stretch of land.

Lippitt said family-style restaurant chains would occupy three of the buildings, although he declined to reveal any possible tenants. Versa marketing materials list Cheddars, Longhorn Steakhouse and Bonefish Grill, but Lippitt said the materials are outdated and just examples of the types of tenants that could open.

“We have commitments on all three of the restaurant buildings,” he said. “It could be some of those (tenants), but not all of those.”

He added: “The intention is that all three will be of national caliber. We have strong interest levels, so we’re confident that’s what will happen.”

In addition to the restaurants, two 6,000-square-foot retail buildings would be constructed for fast casual restaurants, retail or professional use. Lippitt said tenants such as a sandwich or coffee shop, and medical or professional office could open in those buildings.

“We have a variety of letters of intent on those as well,” he said.

If plans are approved by Pittsfield Township, Lippitt said the project could break ground in spring 2013 and open in spring 2014.

The Ann Arbor-Saline and Lohr Road intersection is one of the most highly trafficked in the area. It leads to the Target shopping center on the west side of Ann Arbor-Saline and a shopping complex with Best Buy, Kohl’s, Big Lots and Dick’s Sporting Goods on the east side.

Just across the street from Meijer, developers have targeted a vacant plot of land behind Chuck E. Cheese’s for a multi-family residential project. The owners of the Target shopping center intend to build an apartment complex and eventually redevelop the shopping center.

Grewal said the township is in discussions with the Washtenaw County Road Commission to look at the traffic impact of both developments off Ann Arbor-Saline Road and how to best ease traffic congestion in the area.


Preliminary plans show the buildings that could be constructed in front of the Meijer store on Ann Arbor-Saline Road.

Photo from Versa Development

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

I'm all for new development however, the traffic is already congested in that area. I currently avoid shopping at Oak Valley or Meijers on Ann Arbor-Saline road for that very reason. The road is in terrible shape. When will the pot holes be repaired? If the township goes forward with these new businesses on Ann Arbor-Saline road I hope (and pray) that they will do something to improve the traffic flow and the condition of the roads in the area.


Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

Yes I agree with the above comment. Texas Roadhouse or Famous Dave's! The nearest restaurants are all the way in Westland, which isn't too far but still would be tremendously more convenient if we had them in Ann Arbor!

Marie Willnow

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 1:44 a.m.

I would love to see a Famous Dave's or Texas Roadhouse in that area or somewhere in Ann Arbor.


Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 12:08 a.m.

I would love to see a Longhorn in our area.


Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 1:18 a.m.

Use to be one at the Panera Bread on Eisenhower. Closed several years ago.


Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 12:43 a.m.

Carrie - Ditto! It is a great Steakhouse and their prices are more reasonable than Outback. Pulling in a Brann's would be great too!:)

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 11:31 p.m.

I think you could fit a chain restaurant in some of the potholes along A2Saline Road.

say it plain

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 9:56 p.m.

While I'm not a fan of chains generally because they're boring and tend to destroy local culture, I don't begrudge a *good* chain their right to take market-share... And I certainly prefer that these nation-wide outfits find space in strip plazas instead of in our downtown! Looking at the menus for these particular possibilities, none of them seem on paper to be terrible franchise/chain options, so I guess we have to consider ourselves "lucky"; it could be worse. Cheddar's and Bonefish seem like competitors to Applebee's and CrabShack, "upmarket" in menu but not much different-looking in price, so it does seem strategic for these corporations and might result in lower revenue for those other businesses, but I never go to places like these unless I'm on a road trip so I have no idea how they're doing in Ann Arbor's restaurant-ecosystem. Perhaps we can support *all* of that but our population isn't increasing *that* quickly, is it?!

Boo Radley

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 8:11 p.m.

Great news! Despite what most of the comments are saying ... I hope the Meijer on Jackson at Zeeb Rd. is able to sell their outlots for new businesses and restaurants as well. The Jackson Rd. Lowe's outlot that became a Culvers is a big winner. Now I want to see that Sonic that someone mentioned .... I know .... what am I thinking ... another CHAIN. The horrors ....

David Paris

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 2:54 a.m.

"Now I want to see that Sonic that someone mentioned .... I know .... what am I thinking ... another CHAIN. The horrors ...." Not so, Boo: ) If you're going to put a national chain in Ann Arbor, then this is Exactly where you put it, not downtown in a classic building like the old Shaman Drum location, for example.

Boo Radley

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

As long as we are dreaming of evil national chains, let's dream big and wish for some California In & Out Burger guy to move to Michigan for their first foray into the real world.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.

A Sonic, White Castle and Buffalo Wild Wings would be the trifecta! :)


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

"The vision we have in the township is to increase density through infill development..., " Grewal said. Oh right, because if there's one thing Pittsfield needs, it's more density. And heaven forbid that there be any usable green space just going to waste when we could have more restaurants of "national caliber" (love that phrase!) in that area. Worried that that stretch of road can't support 3+ more restaurants? Just build an apartment complex to bring in more people and their cars. What a great vision!

Boo Radley

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

It is an Ann Arbor mailing address, but it is not in the City of Ann Arbor, it's in Pittsfield. The Carpenter Rd. Meijers is in Pittsfield Twp. as well.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

Just curious, but if the property is listed as an Ann Arbor address, why does Pitsfield have governance over it?


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

By the way, the map is incorrect...Waters Road is on the West side of Ann Arbor-Saline Road, I believe this is Lohr Road.

Laurie Barrett

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

Too bad it's plain old urban planning. Would be nice if developers would take the opportunity to put together greener, gentler retail area. This looks like it'll transform that fairly out-of-town area into another slummy grey expanse of cars, tar, and cement. Lizzy, please report if and when anyone involved with this project announces plans to accomplish it in a graceful way.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

I think the first thing the Pittsfield Board needs to do is deal with the current and potentially increased traffic congestion on Ann Arbor-Saline and Lohr roads and work this into site plan approval in such a way that the new commercial sites pay for ALL the necessary improvements. It is bad on any day and really impossible on Football game days.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 5:39 p.m.

Funny I just drove by and saw this sign yesterday. Then I see a McDonalds and Big Boy on the adjacent lots. Good for more tax revenue and jobs but, I hope it is not more fast food or unhealthy joints and the design is better than the out lots at Meijers on Carpenter Road. The traffic and access drives there are a nightmare. I fear business on these properties will snarl traffic.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 7:51 p.m.

There is no Big Boy restaurant there, hasn't been for years...and the McDonalds is to the north of Meijer next to Appleby's and across from the Meijer gas station.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 4:46 p.m.

Not sure why so many people are finding fault with this. Personally, I welcome the new restaurants, as I will not have to drive downtown, fight the traffic, look for a parking garage that has a "vacancy", and then pay someone for the "privilege" of patronizing their restaurant. Go figure!:)


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 9:11 p.m.

If they are national chains, then I'm unlikely to ever patronize them. I know that puts me in the minority, but chain restaurant food just doesn't taste good to me.

Boo Radley

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 8:05 p.m.

I'm with you, JBK It seems every time there is an article about the area economy rebounding with new retail businesses, new construction, more jobs, more taxes paid and more shopping and dining choices, all of the comments are about how it is a horrible thing and there is already too much traffic. You will be able to see how many of those people there are by the number of votes down I get.

Jamie Pitts

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

This is a step in the right direction. Businesses should face the street where drivers and pedestrians can see the front face and see the people inside. While the development is only a few restaurants, this is the beginning of a place that locals can more comfortably walk around. It has to start somewhere.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

I always thought a Buffalo Wild Wings would go well in this area. I initially thought maybe in the vacant space just north of the Whole Foods location. The one on State Street is mostly the student crowd and there is lack of parking. The only other local option is to drive to the one out on Huron Street in Ypsi. Added bonus along this corridor would be game day people on home football Saturdays.


Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

JBK...there are two large parking garages a half block away.....

Little Patience

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

@sayitplain, couldn't agree more, "B-Dubs" is gross. The few times we've eaten there, the food was cold and tasteless.

say it plain

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 5:42 p.m.

I ate at Buffalo Wild Wings once, and thought I must be coming down with the flu. I had the idea to check out the nutritional info, which is hard because unlike most chain restaurants they don't publish it on their website. But I found out on other sites that 'sent off' to corporate headquarters to get the promised secrets about their menu, and learned that I wasn't coming down with something, it was merely a sodium-induced coma! Lots of their stuff has obscene amounts of fat, but shocking to me beyond that was the salt levels. One dish in particular I had contained *over 7000 mgs* of sodium! That's three times your RDA, and I ordered fries with that to boot! I felt lucky to have survived. It's been shown that even one meal like that can lead to serious damage to people's bodies. These restaurants are truly evil, imo.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

Are you speculating? Or is this a possibility? I would love to see a BWW there. And I agree with you that the one on State caters to very young students and there is NO parking.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

Make it a Bonefish Grill please. I like me some bonefish.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

Meijer bought the land that the Zeed/Jackson store is on 30 years before actually developing it.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

I am looking forward to some restaurants in that area. More choice.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

@djm12652 The Big Boy failed. It's now Nick's. @clownfish you miss Lotus Thai and Godaiko. I don't want more chains. I'd rather see more locally owned restaurants like Arirang and Lotus Thai.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

@clownfish...where is the big boy?

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

What NO Wendy's!!! the horror, the horror


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

How much choice do we need?


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

McDonald's, Big Boy, Nicks Pancake House, Crab Shack, at least 2 pizza places, Arirang, OutBack Steakhouse, Applebees, 3-4 sandwich shops, what else am I missing? Then one exit over: Mexican, ribs, italian, Briarwood and it's food emporiums, Korean/sushi, Burger King, Taco Bell, another McDonalds, Wendys, new Tim Hortons, Marks Coney, Cottage Inn, Mediterrano, Max and Ermas, Red Robin. And we need more chains?


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

I agree. WHITE CASTLE!!!!! love those greasy li'l burgers! yum!

another kathy

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

We live off Lohr Road between Oak Valley and Ellsworth. The traffic at Ann Arbor Saline Rd. and Lohr is already highly congested without the addition of the development of the Meijer outlots. I dreaded the day they would be sold. The most hazardous existing turn is for drivers turning left onto Oak Valley from southbound Ann Arbor Saline Rd. There are two left turn lanes; the one to the right intended for and marked for Meijer only. But with virtually every turn of the light there are at least one, if not more, drivers who begin in that lane and then cut into the other to continue down Lohr Rd. Could developers be forced to widen that turn and add some type of barrier that would force drivers to stay in the lane they have chosen?

Ann English

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 1:15 a.m.

I've never encountered such drivers while approaching Meijer from Ann Arbor-Saline Road. I often approach Meijer from Oak Valley Drive, there along its right side, instead, because I frequent places off South State Street and Ellsworth.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

There are two left turn lanes when traveling south on Ann Arbor-Saline Rd to what I thought was Lohr Rd. And I often take that route and usually send these in a big hurry and above waiting to turn properly people to Meijer...unless of course they can't read English...then I still send 'em to Meijer.

M. Barnett

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

If you lived there before the build up - I can only imagine your angst. If you bought into one of those newer sub developments post the commercial boom - I would ask why you would ever think any lots in that area would remain empty?

Dog Guy

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

Above is the clearest illustration ever on Missing from it are idiots driving diagonally across all the lines in the parking lot and cheats jamming into Waters Road traffic from the right-turn-only lane by the gas station.

Ann English

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 1:22 a.m.

When Meijer was all by itself, off Ann Arbor-Saline, I often turned left onto Waters Road to leave. But when Kohl's, Best Buy and other stores went in, I noticed how far more difficult it was to leave that way, Right-Turn-Only sign/marking or none. So I stopped leaving altogether that way, choosing an exit onto Ann Arbor-Saline or Oak Valley Drive instead, depending on where I wanted to go next. So there are some drivers out there who still try (and succeed) in turning left onto that street? Sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

another kathy

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

I was t-boned in the Meijer parking lot by one of those unthinking people several years ago. Fortunately she hit the passenger side and I was alone in my car and only shaken up, not hurt. Also, there was a witness who was kind enough to stay around until the nice Pittsfield Township police officer responded to my call.

Rob MI

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

I recall rumors that Sonic was interested in one of these lots--or perhaps I am thinking of an outlot at the Zeeb/Jackson Meijer


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

Is this the same township board who said no to the Menards proposal for a store on Carpenter road? In part, they said no because there are "too many home improvement stores". How many restaurants does that stretch of Ann Arbor - Saline road need?


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 5:41 p.m.

Thank God they did. Now we may see Menards on Jackson Rd at Marshall much close to my house. Hooray for Pittsfield!!


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

Funny how folks were tripping over themselves a year or two ago to congratulate new businesses and the jobs/tax base they brought. Now people are complaining that unused parking lot space will be developed? Please. Looking forward to more dining options and new businesses. More tax revenue for the schools - more than vacant parking spaces bring in.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

I already avoid this side of town completely because of the traffic congestion. This includes avoiding the restaurant(s) already there. Adding 3 more isn't going to make me want to head to that side of town. Especially chain restaurants. Of course, I remember riding my bike through the fields before Meijer was even built. Pave Paradise, put up a parking lot.

Ann English

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 1:09 a.m.

It looks like Village Centre, just south of Waters Road, will be left alone: no buildings will sit in front of Outback, DaVita, Fantastic Sam's, Jet's Pizza, Tsai Grocery, or any of the other businesses in that strip mall.

Fat Bill

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

Pretty soon, you will have to use GPS to determine when you have left Canton and entered Ann Arbor/Pittsfield....

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.



Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

Travel the US, it's all the same. Chain restaurants, chain big box stores.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

While I support your comment, I disagree with the comparison. The AA/Saline area is already built-up and is right outside the limits of Ann Arbor. I do agree though that the AA/Saline area is busy and can start to resemble Ford Road in Canton Township, which is why we need to encourage mass transit allocations for future growth. If each development is required to set aside space or build planning for a transit system, then it will become easier to build such system in the future. (in thirty years they will think we were pioneers).

Karen Hart

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

Adding a new curb cut on Ann Arbor-Saline and another on Waters will not help with congestion, It will only add conflicts. Better to use existing entrances. While I like that the buildings , rather than parking, would be closer to the road, it would look much better to pull the buildings back somewhat and heavily landscape the frontage. There's no way that all that new parking is needed, since most of what Meijer has that far away from the building isn't used, and it just adds to the "no man's land" that pedestrians face. So add some parking, but also use Meijer's and add a major pedestrian walkway between Meijer and the new development so people can actually use both parts of the site without parking twice.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

I don't see a new curb cut in the drawing? Where did you glean that from ? Also, do they have plans to include mass transit support, such as space allocated for a tram platform(future) or a station and shelter for a bus stop?

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

Great point on the pedestrian access. I'll have to check if the developers intend to include that in the plans.

Eric S

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

Why, Todd? There are no new driveways. Access is from the Meijer parking lot. I've enjoyed that all of Ann Arbor-Saline Rd in that area has a nice green buffer between it and adjoining commercial development. I'm disappointed that this plan destroys the Meijer berm and replaces it with the commercial clutter of five new buildings crammed up against the road. I am not against development, but I am disappointed that no attempt is being made to maintain the pleasant aesthetics of that stretch.

say it plain

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

Good point, I've never really processed why I find that area tolerable compared to strips elsewhere, and you've hit it spot on...of course! It's the green and space between commercial areas that make it feel like the natural environment hasn't been totally obliterated for the sake of more ways to fill our lives with pieces of plastic and our bellies with fried food. So now we sacrifice the little bit of tranquility and greenery for more fried food, sigh. The same for that totally up-against-the-street Arbor Hills monstrosity on Washtenaw where once there had been a nice bit of green. Green is good for mood and health and now there will be even less of it. It's not the same to have a 'destination' park here and there; and now Ann Arbor will be that much poorer despite the national retailers estimations that we are so rich as a community we get to have new outlets of their junk!

Tom Todd

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 11:19 a.m.

What is the speed limit in that area,lets believe it better be lowered.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

The speed limit is almost irrelevant since the traffic rarely allows you to travel that speed.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

Yes, it's 50 mph. It goes downt to 45 mph at Eisenhower.


Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

I'm pretty sure the speed limit is now 50, although it's rare that one can travel that fast.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

I believe it's 45 mph, but someone correct me if I'm wrong!