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Posted on Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

New Ann Arbor retail development planned for ex-Shops at Arlington land on Washtenaw

By Paula Gardner

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The former "Shops at Arlington" property, shown in May 2010 when it was sold to the current developers, now will be called Arbor Hills Crossing when new site plans are submitted this spring.

A 7.2-acre property on Washtenaw at Platt that was primed for retail development but languished through foreclosure and the economic downturn now is heading for new life as a mixed-use development.

Arbor Hills Crossings is the new name for the former “Shops at Arlington,” and its new owners - a partnership between an Ann Arbor family and Chicago real estate developers - expect to submit site plans to the city in early March.

They’re planning close to 90,000 square feet of new construction in four buildings, with retail, and some office or “flex” space. The location is 3000 Washtenaw at Platt, extending east to the edge of the now-vacant lot that used to house an automotive dealership.

“That site has been sitting there for several years, and it’s not getting more attractive,” said co-developer Tom Stegeman of Campus Realty in Ann Arbor. “We want to build something nice that cleans it up and actually happens.”

Much of the space will be retail, Stegeman said: “Given the location, retail is a pretty compelling use.”

Stegeman and North Shore Properties Group expect to spend coming months working with the city’s planning staff on the site plans. The development team also plans to roll out initial plans at a neighborhood meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16, at Tappan Middle School’s cafeteria.

The new plans so far have been downsized from what previously was approved: The Shops at Arlington called for a 138,000-square-foot retail center with underground parking, some office and condo space, and national-tenant retail space spread over 5 buildings.

That $9 million development project was approved by City Council, but the site plans expired in fall 2009 as lender Comerica Bank sought to sell the property following foreclosure. It was sold to Stegeman's RSW Washtenaw LLC for $3 million in May.

Gordon Mathews and Bill Conlin, the original developers of the Shops at Arlington, sought to capitalize on the tremendous success of Huron Village, just north of the property and home to Whole Foods and Barnes & Noble, among other mostly national tenants.

They also were ready to fulfill the needs of retail and restaurant chains who sought a premium location in the Ann Arbor market in the mid-2000s, as vacancies were low and rental rates soared in the Washtenaw Avenue corridor.

Mathews and Conlin had developed Huron Village with the same goal, since the property, at the corner of Huron Parkway, was one of the highest-traffic intersections in Washtenaw County.

The tenant lineup for Shops at Arlington included retailers like Talbot’s, J Jill, Chicos, Black House/White Market and Joseph A. Banks, Conlin said in fall 2006 as he obtained letters of intent from tenants seeking to move into the planned center. Rental rates reportedly hit the $40-per-square-foot range, a price comparable in Ann Arbor to prime locations like Starbucks at Arborland and some spaces on South State Street.

Stegeman said North Shore will lead the leasing efforts. He described the climate as "changed" since the Shops at Arlington era.

“We’re generally looking at a range of specialty retailers that are perhaps not in the market,” he said. Some regional retailers also are likely, as are local stores.

“Ann Arbor is a unique market,” Stegeman said. “I’d like to look to some local retailers.”

Many national retailers halted expansion plans by 2008, but now have been reentering the Ann Arbor market, seeking potential new locations, industry experts said. Recent “big box” examples include Costco, Menard’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“We’re starting to come out of a recession,” said Malachy Kavanagh, a vice president at the International Council of Shopping Centers in Washington, D.C.

“There wasn’t a lot of confidence because the consumer was in such a funk … (so retailers) weren’t looking to take on new space. That’s starting to change.”

Further, even as the economy starts to move into a more confident period, retailers need to anticipate future needs for store expansion, Kavanagh added.

More specifics on Arbor Hills Crossing will be rolled out at the neighborhood meeting, Stegeman said, including how a brownfield component for cleanup of the former auto dealership could fit into the effort.

He also said that he’s talked to the city about setting up a traffic signal at Platt Road, the western border of the property, which had been approved in the Shops at Arlington plan.

Cleaning up the property is part of the development team’s goal, Stegeman said. The former Stucchi’s building and older two-story buildings closer to Platt will be demolished, too.

Stegeman’s company, a second-generation Ann Arbor real estate development firm, has been active in recent years in development near-campus housing for University of Michigan students. The efforts have resulted in quality projects, like brick townhouses on Washtenaw south of Hill, local developers have said.

Now, Stegeman said, he’s been focusing on upgrading a highly visible vacant lot.

“It would be nice to see something happen there that is nice, that is achievable and that people like,” Stegeman said. “It really is a community site … We’d like to do something that recognizes that.”

Paula Gardner is Business News Director of Contact her at 734-623-2586 or by email. Sign up for the weekly Business Review newsletter, distributed every Thursday, here.



Mon, Feb 14, 2011 : 7:08 p.m.

I finally looked at the Area, Height and placement changes (I only looked at the summary not the actual zoning document). According to the summary, this site, zoned C3, can build 14.4 acres of floor space (twice the property area). Since there is no adjacent residential zone, there is no cap on building height. I don't think there are many use restrictions. This could really be developed into a major shopping/office/apartment area with excellent access to public transport and the highway.


Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 10:58 p.m.

Conlin originally intended to build a ground level parking area with shops and condo/apartments above. The added parking at Arlington shops was to be shared with patrons of Huron Village. I hope the new owners add a parking structure with shops/offices above and that they share the parking with Huron Village shoppers. A light and pedestrian crossing at Platt will facilitate with intershop pedestrian travel. As a resident in the neighborhood south of the proposed development, I have several suggestions that were in the original plans that facilitate pedestrian and bicycle access from the surrounding neighborhoods. There should be sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides of Platt from Washtenaw to Huron Parkway. There should be a sidewalk and a bike channel all along Washtenaw from Platt to Huron Parkway. Access by pedestrians and bikers to the shops inside the development should also be given priority. Arborland is very unfriendly for bikes and pedestrians while Huron Village is better but not great. Conlin promised to build several of the buildings near the sidewalk so pedestrians could enter without crossing traffic lanes. Also, Mallets Creek runs along the back of the property and there's a wetland in the southwest corner that will constrain development on the site.


Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 3:52 p.m.

Mr. Stegeman, Please bring " Sanders Candy & Ice Cream " store to your new place. I will come and eat a Hot Fudge Cream Puff Sunday everyday!


Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 3:10 p.m.

The store is called "White House | Black Market," not "Black House/White Market."


Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

I would like to ad my two cents worth. After reading some comments it just makes me so mad. Why don't all you people that want a skate park, more green space, left for the wildlife in the middle of a city, etc..... Take your money and buy it yourself instead of telling someone else what to do with there property that they paid for and are paying the taxes on. You always seem to know what to tell someone else to do but never buy it or pay for it. Put your money up or shut up


Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.

I have put my money up and so have all my friends -- the problem is we don't have a lot of money. This developer, on the other hand, appears to have some means at his disposal as well as quite a bit of land -- and he's carrying on about the "community." So let's all put our money where our mouths are, work together, and get it done.


Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 12:58 p.m.

my thoughts exactly


Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 6:05 a.m.

Am glad to see this land finally developed. Thrilled that there will be a light at the corner of Platt and Washtenaw. A safe place for pedestrians to cross the road, and help with traffic. Too bad they are not really developing a true 'mixed use' which would also include some condos on upper levels, above retail and office.....


Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 6:05 a.m.

Nice! At least the future empty retail space will be contemporary and up-to-date instead of dilapidated and fifties-looking! And the parking lot weeds will be updated, as well. A winning combo, for sure!


Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 3:24 a.m.

Thank God it's a strip mall. I was worried that they'd put a CVS in there...


Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 2:26 a.m.

I remember going to pick up our brand new Oldsmobile at this site when I was a kid. Maybe the developers could add a little nostalgia to the name or the grounds to recognize what was there, perhaps make the road in there called John Lee Drive.


Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 12:52 a.m.

Can developers PLEASE stop naming everything "Arbor _______________"?! I am getting so confused between subdivision developments, shopping centers named Arbor everything that I can't keep them straight anymore. Some creativity is really in order here.

Basic Bob

Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 12:27 a.m.

Not the best name. Arbor Hills is the landfill in Salem Township! It's a great location for redevelopment. I'm happy to see some interest from a new developer.


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 11:47 p.m.

What Ann Arbor project would be complete without a new traffic circle?


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 11:42 p.m.

Let's remember bikes and pedestrians, then maybe there will be less traffic on what is probably the most congested stretch of Ann Arbor roads. Personally I think the Whole Food lot is the second worst in town; Arborland has to be the worst!


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 10:45 p.m.

It will be nice to see that area finally redeveloped. Much of that area has been an eyesore for quite some time and I hope the new development will look good. Of course the gas station and muffler shop will still be ugly. That old East Ann Arbor corridor is a major gateway into Ann Arbor and it will only help to have it spruced up. I also agree that the parking situation at Whole Foods sucks and the city planners really need to do a better job with this project. Having access to the development from Platt Rd. and having a traffic light there at Washtenaw will make it a lot easier for those leaving the new development heading west. They should also fix the traffic flows on Washtenaw from Huron Parkway to US 23. It's too congested during rush hours. Right turn lanes at the entrances into the shopping center from Denny's up to Pittsfield Blvd would help. Same with the shopping center between Pittsfield and Yost. There's a lot of wasted space that could be used to construct turn lanes which would help the traffic flow.


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 10:38 p.m.

Traffic is terrible all along E. Stadium up and through Carpenter Rd. on Washtenaw Blvd. Are you telling me there is a way to get in and out of this area without making it worse yet? Other than that, I think it's great!


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 10:17 p.m.

@CLX To true......I also wonder how people will turn left onto Washtenaw.....


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 9:52 p.m.

How about a Crate & Barrel? And let's hope this developer is a lot smarter and doesn't recreate the parking nightmare that is across the street at Whole Foods - that must be one of the most poorly designed lots in existence, and how they ever managed to convince the city to allow them to build with insufficient parking is still beyond me.


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 9:41 p.m.

The public comment is scheduled for the same evening as the AATA public comment at Mallets Creek Library branch. That's a poor sign that the developers aren't really aware of what's happening in that particular area of the community.

Susan Montgomery

Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 9:34 p.m.

Umm.. " "We're staring to come out of a recession," "


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.

As much as I would appreciate more green space, this area already has a "breather" with County Farm Park. It would be good to see the derelict buildings at the corner of Platt and Washtenaw go. I hope there this will be a place better designed for people to cross Washtenaw on foot. A sensible design of lights, crossings, and maybe a separate right turn ramp from Platt to Washtenaw, would be great. This is my area of town, and the Washtenaw corridor between Huron Parkway and Platt is unfriendly to anything but motor vehicles. We can change that.


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

Enough, Do we really need yet another shopping center. Please keep it green and let the wildlife have some where to go. What a waste of space to become another eye sore after 10 years of use.


Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 5:16 a.m.

It's on old broken concrete. Keep it green? It's right next to Washtenaw in a heavy traffic area. Wildlife? You do know this is a former auto dealership parking lot, right?

Terry Redding

Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.

Karen, Wildlife? I thouhgt the greenbelt was supposed to be going around the city, not through it. Now, if you can convince city council to warp the interpretation of the greenbelt funds to buy this piece of property then the more power to you.

Boo Radley

Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 10:35 p.m.

Great idea ... but this isn't publicly owned property. Would you like to purchase the property so that you can "keep it green"?


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 8:28 p.m.

Will be nice to see this site utilized rather than sitting vacant, and appreciate the scaled-down size as well. I do hope there are plans to expand or at least re-pave Platt road, especially where it meets up with Huron Parkway, to accommodate more traffic. And not sure how a new traffic light at Platt and Washtenaw will integrate with the one(s) at the huge nearby intersection at Washtenaw and Huron Parkway.


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 8:10 p.m.

Hey Stegeman, if you really believe this is a "community site," put aside some land and $$ for a skatepark!


Fri, Feb 11, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

Why not replace the grand scope of the currently proposed million dollar skatepark and start with a more reasonable/attainable/modest plan? Then, if the park is seen as inadequate to serve demand, it can make a much better case for additional monies and growth.

Vivienne Armentrout

Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 8:02 p.m.

I wonder how the recently passed Area, Height and Placement changes will affect the design of this development, and also how well it will fit with some of the concepts being promoted with the Washtenaw corridor planning and visioning. As I recall the AHP changes, the maximum setback (for parking lots, etc.) would be reduced from those seen in the area currently.