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 Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

More retail construction in Ann Arbor: Plymouth Road project breaks ground for Starbucks, Little Caesars

By Lizzy Alfs


A rendering of the Plymouth Road Plaza development. The project broke ground last week, six years after it was proposed.

Rendering courtesy of Jack Edelstein

Improved economic factors and U-M's purchase of the former Pfizer site in Ann Arbor have allowed developers to move forward with a project they first proposed in 2006.

Construction started last week for the two-story, 21,000-square-foot commercial and office building called Plymouth Road Plaza. It’s being built on the underutilized parking lot in front of the Plymouth Road Mall, just east of Nixon Road.

Louis Johnson and Jack Edelstein got city approvals for the project in 2007, but it was sidelined when the economy turned south and Pfizer announced it would shutter its 174-acre Ann Arbor research center.

Five years later, the project is off the ground.

“We’ve had a lot of interest,” Edelstein said. “I think certainly with the (University of Michigan) moving into the former Pfizer lot, there’s a lot of activity there…I’ve heard through word-of-mouth that traffic has definitely increased.”

The 1-acre property is currently fenced off and construction crews are on site. Edelstein said the goal is to complete the building by Nov. 30 so tenants can start their own build-outs and open by early spring.


Construction is under way on the Plymouth Road Plaza development in Ann Arbor.

Lizzy Alfs |

Starbucks, Little Caesars Pizza, Dearborn Financial Credit Union and La Vita Body Spa have already signed leases for the first-floor of the building, Edelstein said.

Negotiations are under way with a food establishment for the remaining retail space on the first-floor and an office tenant for the 9,000-square-foot second-floor. Johnson, who owns Johnson Group Realtors and Builders, is handling the leasing.

The new building will have two drive-thrus for the end cap retail spaces, one for Starbucks and one for the credit union. There will be an outdoor seating area and the building will be “highly energy efficient,” Edelstein said.

It will be situated close to the sidewalk, giving it visibility from Plymouth Road — which is something that has challenged the existing Plymouth Road Mall.

“We recognized this as an opportunity to do an infill project to both add value to this land and also to increase business and traffic to the existing mall,” Edelstein said. “A vast portion of the property is not being used.”

Plymouth Road Mall is owned by Vern Hutton, who also partnered in the new project. Tenants in that shopping center include Songbird Cafe, Carpenter Brothers Hardware, Domino’s Pizza, Way One Market and several others.

The project comes shortly after the neighboring Traver Village shopping center reconfigured its south end cap following Blockbuster’s closure. The project relocated the site's frontage to give retailers storefronts directly off Plymouth Road.

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



Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

Let's all remember that you vote with your dollars, not your philosophy. All over the country big box chains encroach on communities. Local groups protest and resist, trying to preserve their downtowns, local businesses, local flavor. Angry words are exchanged. Court actions are invoked. Big boxes bludgeon their way in despite grassroots resistance. THEN guess where everbody shops. What do you value most?

Jay Thomas

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 3:32 a.m.

So now that parking lot will be full more often. Great. :(


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 9:31 p.m.

Weird to see how many are so concerned with who the tenants are? That is none of your business and not your problem - they are who they are. They can afford to lease space precisely because your neighbors not only like what they offer but spend a lot of your money buying - making them "giant". Mom and Pops continue their decline for obvious reasons - it's not complicated.

A. Barnard

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

Typical unfair and selfish giants. Starbucks threatens threefold to the freshly-minted Songbird cafe, the Sweetwaters cafe (an Ann Arbor native) near Green Road, and family-owned Moonwinks East past US-23. Also, Starbucks already exists inside of Kroger across Nixon; it's enough. The Little Caesar's is locally Detroit, but Ypsi-born Domino's is already set up. Does the world really need another Seattle-based Starbucks? Hmm, how about a boycott? Spread the word to absolutely everyone: If we want money to stay in Michigan, then buying local must continue diligently.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

Not knocking any franchiser..a lot of hard work,I know...but Little Caesars???...there's a demand for that god-awful pizza?...really???

Pretty Gritty

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

Another Starbucks! Wonderful. (shakes head)


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 11:37 a.m.

Seriously? Another Starbucks and Little Caesar's? How does this contribute ANYTHING to this area of Ann Arbor--unless of course Ann Arbor has decided its main goal is to become a generic suburban landscape. Just because a developer wants to build it does not mean it is right for the community. Songbird Cafe is a fabulous new locally owned coffee shop with unique drinks and sandwiches, with great owners. What is going to happen to it when that giant building pops up in front of it so no one can see from the road that there is a great choice being hidden by yet another generic chain? Seriously bad decision-making in action.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

"Ann Arbor has decided its main goal is to become a generic suburban landscape." Ding ding ding ding ding!!!


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

Build baby Build, Maybe a Chick-Fil-A will move in?


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 1:10 a.m.

I would gladly support their causes.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

@basic Bob, by supporting a business you are therefore supporting their causes.

Basic Bob

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 9:44 p.m.

I'd go. I don't really care what the franchisor does with his profits. If he declines to open on Sunday, I will keep that in mind and won't be disappointed that they are closed. It's none of my business what the owners of La Shish, Zingerman's, or Ben and Jerry's do with their money, either.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

Chick-Fil-A is awesome. Wish they would open one around here.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

What underutilized parking lot? I guess Ann Arbor city figures if you don't have to wait 15 minutes to find a parking spot, it's underutilized! Like when they put the two restaurants on the corner of Washtenaw / Huron Parkway in front of Whole Foods and Panera Bread.

Ed Kimball

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 2:04 a.m.

I go to that mall often and have never had to wait for a parking space -- or walk very far from my car to the store.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

Flim Flam - a plymouth mall landmark - just closed for lack of business. Plymouth mall owner just vested in new building with space for a restaurant. Hmmmm. OK. Coffee is a basic food group. OK. Pizza is a basic food group. Another necessary construction? The day a photographer takes random shots of A2 and even the locals can't identify the city is a very bad day.

Lynn Liston

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

This is a little confusing. Why a Starbucks when there is already the Songbird? Why a LIttle Caesars when there is already a Dominos Pizza? It's not clear how bringing in more chains with competing businesses and blocking the view of the existing stores from the road will help the existing merchants.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 12:32 a.m.

Apologies, <50% occupancy rate, of course.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 12:30 a.m.

-Why a starbucks when there's already a new coffee shop? ANS: because the place that remodeled Flim Flam out of their own pocket will leave all those renovations behind if they go away. Landlord doesn't give a darn. He just got a free upgrade of a space that hadn't been touched since 1970, plus a nationwide brand that takes care of itself. -why doesn't a major landlord care if their for-lease business properties are vacant? ANS: same reason that the "luxury" student lofts and apts in downtown don't matter to the building owners if they remain at their current <50% vacancy rate. Its all a tax dodge for the wealthy.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 10:47 p.m.

that would be the illusion of choice!


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

Maybe people want variety and choice?

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

Looks a bit like a retirement center to me.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

Low income retirement village....


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

I hope the existing businesses are not driven out. We have an ice cream store, an Asian market, an Indian market, a cafe, a yoga studio, a hardware store and some other small shops. There is a nice diversity. It would be a big hit losing those businesses. Little Caesar's Pizza is a mystery - there is a Dominos, and you can get quick delivery from both Marco's and Jet's just down the road and all three are better than Little Caesar's. Why not have a small independent movie theater in this part of town? That would be a win-win for the theater and the existing retail businesses and I know a lot of people up here would go to a theater they could easily access. Up here, it's kind of a hassle sometimes to get downtown and park. We want to walk to our entertainment, too.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.

I love this idea! Independent movie theatre! I also agree that I love the diversity of the businesses up there... you can bet I'm going to do extra to patronize them as opposed to the chain stores.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

Thus continues the madness. I join in the many negative comments already stated. "underutilized parking lot?" Of course, as there is not enough business to keep the main mall going. So now we have more businesses under-patronized. A mall with two pizza shops and two coffee shops. Give me a break!


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

Correction to the story. The name of the credit union locating there is DFCU Financial.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

What are they going to do with the Starbucks inside Kroger's across the street?

Rod Johnson

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 8:20 p.m.

Intersections with multiple Starbucks are nothing new, alas.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

..aaand another nasty building burps into existence. This looks like another ham-fisted, clunky, nasty strip center from the 1980's. What is with the "brackets" and clumsy 2nd floor windows!? ...again, I don't see how developers investing this kind of money - with the associated risk - hire hack after hack to design their buildings. ...even though it's a well worn AA tradition. I guess on the other hand, it's work for some other builder when it defaults to the bank in a few years and is remodeled by the new owner into something less embarrassing.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

I believe the plzns came from World Rent-a-Plan, Inc.

David Cahill

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

This project is great news for the Plymouth area! I hope it will revitalize the existing Plymouth Road mall as well as providing new stores, etc., itself. Way to go, Jack!


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

Couldn't they have just renovated the strip mall that's already there? sigh.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

What will happen to the guy who sells fish from the back of his freezer truck? That's where he parks!

Ann English

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 11:03 p.m.

I didn't know that kind of business was still around; over 20 years ago, such a guy came to my home selling frozen walleye and other fish. I never see walleye offered in ads anymore, so I guess it has fallen out of favor in the seafood market. Whoever THIS guy selling fish from his truck is may as well start taking contact information from his best, if not all, customers in case he has to park somewhere else.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

There's a fish guy up there? When is he there? We used to have one of those when I lived in PA, and it was GREAT stuff!


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 1 p.m.

Another bland building with chains ... the blanding/branding of AA continues ....


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

I know it's junk food, but I'm still hoping for the day they'll build a Taco Bell, KFC and/or a Burger King this side of town. I'm tired of driving almost to Ypsi to go to one of those places.

Rod Johnson

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 8:19 p.m.

@Urban Sombrero: really? You never noticed TMAZ Taqueria? Just east of Platt--you should check it out, it's great.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 1:42 a.m.

Ypsi welcomes your business.

Urban Sombrero

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 12:47 a.m.

@mixmaster: where at Packard and Platt? I'm right in that neighborhood and I have no idea where the authentic taco place is that you're referring to.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 2:26 a.m.

Is Burger King really worth driving for? When Famous Burger and Great Plains Burger Co. are right there on Plymouth?


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

how 'bout a Hooters!

Ann English

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

Thinking about the Burger King on Victor's Way and the Wendy's on Boardwalk. They are out of sight of main road motorists, but their clientele are people using the motels and inns in that area. Sounds like you're saying that the inns on your side of town don't have your favored restaurants around them. I don't go through that area often. They should have fast food restaurants near the inns for people passing through and residents nearby.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

taco bell would be awesome! Or white castle :)


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 1:13 p.m.

You'd spend $5 for gas to eat chain tacos, fried chicken parts or a manufactured burger? When instead you could go to Krazy Jim's, or find more authentic tacos at Packard and Platt?


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 1 p.m.



Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

Wow how does that help the businesses that are already there and will now not be seen from the road...seems pretty thoughtless to the tenants, many of whom have been there for years.

Ann English

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 10:58 p.m.

Calmic, I think you mean that at first, the new businesses draw customers in, and then they take a closer look at the older businesses than they could get just driving by them previously. It is convenient to be able to walk from one business to another, staying off a busy road.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

if they drive by everyday, wouldn't they already be patronizing those businesses?


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 9:44 p.m.

By attracting new customers from the many thousands who drive by every day


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 12:15 p.m.

Just what A2 needs is another mall. There are so many empty buildings already here.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 10:43 a.m.

Little Caesar's and Dominos in the same plaza? I expect Dominos will lose a lot of business to Hot 'N Ready.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 1:41 a.m.

I would never eat a Little Caeser's hot and nasty pizza. Want a good tasting pizza call Jet's. Really. Just had one tonight and it was darn good. Bye the way, Dominos is not good at all.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 1:23 a.m.

The Little Caesar 's is not for this area.


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

I'm not a huge fan of Dominos, but that Hot 'N Ready is downright nasty.