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Posted on Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Metro Detroit doctor buys Main Street buildings that house Starbucks, Black Pearl for $1.8M

By Lizzy Alfs


Rahmani purchased the building that houses Starbucks, Black Pearl and Seyfried Jewelers on South Main and West Liberty streets.

Lizzy Alfs |

Metro Detroit ophthalmologist Reza Rahmani of Rahmani Eye Institute PC purchased his third downtown Ann Arbor building last week in a $1.825 million deal.

Starbucks, Black Pearl and Seyfried Jewelers occupy the three street-level spaces of the building on the corner of South Main and West Liberty streets.

Loft style apartments occupy the top of the 24,000-square-foot building and have separate owners.

Jim Chaconas and Brendan Cavender of Colliers International brokered the deal.


Rahmani also purchased two other downtown Ann Arbor buildings: one on Main Street and one on South State Street.

Lizzy Alfs |

Formerly occupied by the Ann Arbor racquetball club, the building was purchased in 1998 by Ann Arbor’s Amvest Properties and converted to a mixed-use property, leaving the building in good condition.

Rahmani’s recent investment, Chaconas said, is a rare opportunity to purchase a building on Ann Arbor’s “number one block.”

“These buildings almost never come up for sale,” he said. “They are not on the market. Dr. Rahmani is smart because he’s picking locations that will always be leased.”

This move by Amvest is one of several affecting the company in recent months. A call was placed to founder Jerry Spears to talk about the sale.

In November, Rahmani purchased the Main Street building that houses The Ark, Conor O’Neills, Melange Bistro and Rush Street for $3.85 million. The building was formerly owned by Amvest and renovated by the company in 2006.

In 2010, Rahmani purchased the ex-Ritz Camera building on South State Street near the University of Michigan campus.

The building, which became vacant after the store’s national bankruptcy, is now occupied by a 7-Eleven store. Rahmani bought the building at 318 S. State St. at auction after bidding $1.3 million.

Rahmani could not be reached for comment regarding the most recent deal, but he told in 2010 that it was a good time to invest in Ann Arbor real estate.

“Somebody who has cash right now can make good investments in Michigan. There’s a lot of opportunity," he said.

Chaconas, who also represented Rahmani in his other Main Street purchase, said these buildings are some of the most stable real estate investments in Ann Arbor.

“The rents will continue to go up there,” he said. “Look at the track record on State Street and Main Street. That’s the growth and where everybody wants to be. We get calls daily for restaurant or retail space on those blocks.”

He added: “We have a list of people right now that want space on Main Street. People out of Boulder, Washington D.C., Chicago; they all want to be right there.”

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


Albert Howard

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 11:08 a.m.

Ann Arbor's future is so bright we need to wear 'sunglasses'. Main and Liberty is a beautiful place to walk.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 3:47 a.m.

Dudes and Dudettes... there is BIG money in " Eyes " !


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 3:07 a.m.

Speaking of doctors, it's a slow news day, time to publish another article about Dr. Weinblatt to increase's hits? Or take an ipad to video him in his home?

Marshall Applewhite

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 11:15 p.m.

Damn, that's a great price. I need to get onto the Choconas e-mail list.

Original Ann Arborite

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.

Is he Oakland Cty. also? Oakland County seems to be quietly making a big presence here in A2-hmmm...

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 5:48 p.m.

No would a be a good time to say goodbye to these buildings because ina few more years we'll have more high rises.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

I thought first-person statements by the author were generally frowned upon in news reporting.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

@Youwhine Thanks for catching it.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

Um, I think it's just intended to be a story about the sale of a significant building in downtown A2, for what appears to be a fabulous price. Accompanied by background information on the price, the seller, the building, the building's prior use, the broker, and other recent purchases by the same buyer. Not sure why it would need to delve into political or social commentary, a discussion of relative rental rates and occupancy figures, or idle speculation about evil schemes being plotted by the buyer. Or even what he plans to "do" with the building, since it's clearly a business investment; if it's fully leased to good tenants, is it not possible that there is no more to the story than that he intends to collect rent and will reassess his options when those leases come up for renewal?


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

Rahmani buys a building on State Street and we now have a Seven Eleven adding to the charm of the block. I hope The Ark will not ultimately fall to the highest rent paying bidder and become a Chuck E. Cheese's or other suchlike corporate entity.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

You are right, 318 S. State was definitely much more charming BEFORE he bought it. You know, when it sat abandoned for two years providing nothing but frontage for panhandlers and drunks to hang out on State St... That was way more charming.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

Rents are always going up says Chaconas... Well, that's because he lists 90% of Ann Arbor and sets the rates himself. You can attribute plenty of the vacancies in this city to his lease rates. The space that now holds the Melting Pot and Jolly Pumpkin sat vacant for years because of the lease rate. Take a walk down Liberty and see how many spaces are still vacant. I don't mind hearing about Rahmani purchasing his third building in town, it is a good investment. I do mind repeatedly hearing about a guy that claims things are good for the city when 1) he doesn't live here, and 2) helps create a large problem by setting such high lease rates. Ask around, not many people hold the highest opinion.

Chase Ingersoll

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

Contrast this to Downtown Ypsilanti, that would see it as an achievement to get a Starbucks, 5 Guys or 7-11. The only chain I can think of on Michigan Ave are the tax refund/finance offices. And, the only one that I am aware of that wants to come in is McDonalds. The last several years, downtown Ypsilanti lost it's BTW to Ypsilanti Township. Chase Ingersoll


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

The comment about 'rents always going up' would scare me as a tenant. That comment sounds- oh--- greedy. Want would be great is a landlord that offered stability in the area, by keeping rent at a level that was affordable to the tenants. No, not give it away- that's not the point- but stability in A2 on that actual corner, would be important to our area. He would win ( and while I certainly don't have 1+mil lying around:-)) as that seems like a great price for that space, and we get to hold our little city dear keeping those businesses open and thriving. Time will tell.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

Too bad someone from Ann Arbor couldn't scratch up the 1.8 million for this landmark. I prefer it when the local economy stays local. If it's such an incredible investment where were all of the local real estate speculators? Is Dr. Rahmani also purchasing properties in other cities? it would be nice to learn a bit more about this fellow other than the fact that he just bought another piece of Ann Arbor. What does he plan to do? I little actual reporting would be a nice companion to a collection of disjointed facts.

say it plain

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 12:39 a.m.

Exactly @Buster W. Better than a hedge fund from somewhere I guess. I just hope he doesn't feel dis-engaged enough from the Ann Arbor community to do as his broker reps seem to have told him he could very easily do--raise the rents high enough that only the deep pockets who are calling him all the time inquiring about getting in on the revenue from overpriced cocktails and mediocre menus that seem to work well on Main Street AA could still make it work there....

Buster W.

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

Don't knock least he's from SE Michigan.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

Maybe some day Ann Arbor will be renamed Rahmaniville in honor of it's owner.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

I prefer The University of Ann Arbor


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

but..but...but...A2 is a communist enclave! Nobody does business there, too much socialism and what-not.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

Capitalism at work! At least some people are doing well in this economy.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

Did you know that the good Dr accepts medicare and medicaid? Any idea what % of his business is driven by socialist policies? Did you know that LOTS of people are doing good in this economy? Median CEO pay jumped 27% in 2010. Corporate profits are at record levels. The CEO of Apple is going to get $378,000,000. But, we can't tax him an extra 3%, cuz then he won't create jobs (overseas) Did you know that since Oct of '10 the unemplyment rate has dropped almost every month. Those are some people that now have jobs.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

There it is! The voice of factual reasoning. How does this compute with your other posts about A2 being too socialist for any business to make it? That there are too many rules, no business would want to move there? Is the rent control too rigorous? Do you know how city council will set quotas on production in these businesses?


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

who sold the buildings? you say they almost never come up for sale, you gave us the broker, and the buyer, who was the seller? and why do we all need to know this, what makes it newsworthy?


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

"Formerly occupied by the Ann Arbor racquetball club, the building was purchased in 1998 by Ann Arbor's Amvest Properties and converted to a mixed-use property, leaving the building in good condition" That would make Amvest Properties the owners. I know, i know, reading is hard

The Black Stallion3

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

Looks like the eye business is doing very well........see what I mean?


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

You're lucky Moe Howard isn't around.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 12:16 p.m.

Would this be a good time to bring up the cost of medical care?


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 11:48 a.m.

Did you intend to make this article an infomercial for Dr. Rahmani, or were you trying to accomplish another goal. The information in your reporting is simply facts that present little organization into a significant story. With a little more time, this article could have been refined into an appropriate business story. Maybe you could have expanded your story to show how high rents are impacting business or how Ann Arbor still has a high demand for retail space. Your information is simply an example with no story insteady of a story with supporting factual examples--like Dr. Rahmani buying the buildings.

say it plain

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 11:28 a.m.

Jim Chaconas with his "rent *always* goes up and up and up" mantra... what a wonderful force in Ann Arbor...not! We have 'people' that want space on that street, from all over the country... Yeah, chains/franchises from all other places, to make Ann Arbor "anyplace USA", cool!

say it plain

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

Well, @johnnya2, you may have noticed that I did *not* say anything about the businesses already there. But rather found it striking that Mr. Chaconas is talking up the rent-raising potential for his clients like Dr. Rahmani. In this manner, with the constantly rising rents, the locally owned and operated businesses (and thank you for giving some further details on some of the businesses currently on that block! I do hope that they continue to be able to pay the rents now that the building has sold. So often that means an immediate large increase in rents you may realize ;-) ) are sometimes forced to change their business model. Or leave. So that the 'people' from Boulder and D.C. and wherever can call up Mr. Chaconas and work out their leases at those up-up-up rates. Of course I didn't imply I'd want rents to reflect 'bad business' in town. Just that I'd like rents to allow locally owned and operated businesses and an interesting mix thereof, instead of all restaurants with 10 dollar cocktails, all the time.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

So you prefer rents go down, similar to housing values? I would also point out that Harry Cohan, a person, is the owner of the Black Pearl. Seyfried Jewelers is owned by that giant chain of Jim and Bill Hart (people the last I checked). Conor's is hardly a chain with two locations. Melange Bistro was just purchased by Chris and Laura Wanke. I guess you consider them a chain too? The Ark, while not owned by any specific person, since it is a registered 501c3 charity, it must be part of that chain of charities that gobble up downtown real estate and can be found in "anyplace USA". In fact, I challenge you to walk down Main Street from William to Huron, and on State Street from Packard to Huron. Why not give us a % that are "chains/franchises" and those that are not. You really make yourself look foolish when you rant about something you think, without doing any research.