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Posted on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

Independent bookstore among those eyeing Snyder's former Ann Arbor campaign office

By Ben Freed


The property on the corner is next to the Amadeus Restaurant and across the street from the Fourth and Washington parking garage.

Melanie Maxwell |

Governor Rick Snyder’s former Ann Arbor campaign headquarters at 124 E. Washington Street is a prime storefront in downtown Ann Arbor with multiple interested prospective tenants.

The property is owned by 124 East Washington, LLC and managed by PTP Management, a local broker specializing in student housing and downtown Ann Arbor commercial real estate.

Faramarz Farahanchi, who manages both entities, said the property is one of the last open pieces of real estate in downtown Ann Arbor and that he has not yet closed on a lease for the space.

“We’re in no rush to finalize this, it’s a great space,” he said. “We are evaluating all of the candidates.”

Farahanchi said that there are three solid applicants leading the way for the space, one of which is for an independent bookstore that has been looking at potential locations downtown since July.

The possible future Literati Bookstore is one of the contenders.

"We are in lease negotiations for the space right now," co-owner Hilary Lowe said Monday.

"... We wanted something downtown because there are a bunch of great niche stores, but nothing has really replaced Borders as a general bookstore. We wanted to be in that walkable area, and it's been a challenge to find the right space at the right price."

Lowe and her co-owner and fiance, Michael Gustafson, have raised money from friends and family for the endeavor, as well as secured a loan from Ann Arbor State Bank.

"There are so many steps in the process to opening," Lowe said.

"But we're pretty confident at this point that it will happen. We had to secure the funding, and then finding the location is the most difficult part of all."

The location is still not a given, as Farahanchi is undecided on which applicant will secure a lease for the space.

“We are flexible about what kind of tenant we could have here,” he said.

“It depends on what the use will be and expectations, as well as what the business plan calls for… In the end, we want to make sure that the people who rent here will be successful. The tenant’s success is the landlord’s success.”


Faramarz Farahanchi said he is doing some minor renovations, but that he would not consider dividing the space and renting to multiple tenants.

Melanie Maxwell |

Farahanchi said that a local real estate broker is not representing the bookstore, but that Colliers International has clients looking at the space. Brendan Cavendar of Colliers confirmed that he had two clients looking at the building but declined to specify how they would use the space.

Farahanchi was overseeing minor renovations Monday, including adding a door on the Fourth Avenue side of the property. He said the building is up to code as a historic downtown building and that it could be used for a number of purposes, including retail, office space, or a restaurant.

The property has about 2,600 square feet of rentable space split between a main floor at street level and a basement with approximately equal space.

In the past four years, Ann Arbor has lost the downtown Borders flagship store, Michigan Book and Supply, and the Shaman Drum bookstore.

There are still a number of independent book retailers in Ann Arbor, including the Crazy Wisdom Book Store and Tea Room, the used book shop Dawn Treader, Aunt Agatha's, which sells new and used mysteries; West Side Book Shop, selling use and rare books, and Nicola's Books in the Westgate Shopping Center.

Lowe and Gustofson started a blog in July, and commented in October that they were “closing on a lease soon. They wrote that they bott grew up in Michigan and “decided to move 1,000 miles, from Brooklyn to Ann Arbor, to start a bookstore to bring books back to downtown Ann Arbor.”

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Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

You didn't mention the best bookstore downtown: Motte & Bailey near the Food Coop. Maybe it's time for a reporter to a general story on the book business in Ann Arbor and talk to *ALL* the book retailers, from specialty new book dealers such as Common Language in Braun Court next to Kerrytown to used book dealers such as M&B and Garrett Scott (hidden behind Morgan & York). We don't have the wealth of bookstores we had 20 years ago but we still have a great group (and great range) of local businesses to buy books from. One more would only make the Ann Arbor book scene better. If they know the market well enough, there should be a niche for them since we have no general new book retailer downtown now.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 10:44 p.m.

I hope they do NOT put a book store there. You see, I am an addict and if they put a bookstore there, I not going to have any extra money and my house will be filled with books to the point where I might have to make pathways in the living room made of books. j/k I am so jonesing for a general bookstore downtown!


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

@pineywoodsguy, Printed Books You Can Hold In Your Hands are NOT, I repeat NOT dead(you should see my collection). As long as there are Bluestockings like myself to pass the printed word along to our children and grandchildren, the printed word will continue. Suggest you check out Nicola's or Barnes & Noble. sign me, an Unapologetic bookworm.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

I know people are excited about a new bookstore downtown, and I agree it'd be great, but I also worry over whether it could survive in this location. It's true - the foot traffic is not what it is on Main or State streets and the rent is still high.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

Lizzy, a general bookstore might increase foot traffic in that area. I would walk a few blocks out of my way to visit an indie bookstore.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

Bookstore would be the best! Author readings and a children's book section might help them do well.

Chip Reed

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 11:48 a.m.

This was the site of the Michigan Free Press in the early 70's. A paper somewhat to the left of the Ann Arbor Sun...


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 9:27 a.m.

Bookstore that has cats? Or at least one cat. Please? I read that they future owners are cat lovers themselves and couldn't imagine a greater combination. Well, tea as well. But I'll take what I can get. Can I rent out a nook?

Sandy weimert

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 5:31 a.m.

Yes! My family and friends would love a new general book store downtown. Snyders old headquarters corner could be lovely; pastries from Amadeus and bookshop tea or coffee A gathering place, conversation, discussion and local book club meetings! Authors! Bookstore I will stop by and even offer to work for free!

Tom Joad

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 3:27 a.m.

I'd rather have another cafe in that spot. Seems like the ideal location to pour some java and have free wifi

Jami Lippens

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 2:28 a.m.

Yay! I would LOVE a new bookstore!

Seasoned Cit

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 12:30 a.m.

I heard that the UAW was planning on leasing the space and to start the Governor Snyder Library. Should draw lots of folks to the area especially when the Plumbers and Pipefitters and Electricians are in town during the summer.

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 12:09 a.m.

I looked at this space a number of times a couple years ago after Snyder moved out for a business I was considering opening downtown. The lower level of this building is pretty unique with the original stone foundation exposed on one side and combine with the ground level would make for a decent amount of shelf space for a niche bookstore. Also, I believe it originally used to be a bakery wich is why the side facing Fourth is not completely bricked as its where the delivery door used to be.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 11:39 p.m.

The office was the site of some interesting protests in 2010 when Snyder was using it as his campaign office:

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 11 p.m.

There are a couple of well-liked restaurants on that block and it is across from a popular parking garage. Also, Division is getting more and more lively. I'd like to see a bookstore that also serves as a limited newstand. We lost the last one on Main Street some time ago. Best wishes to the aspirants.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 10:57 p.m.

How about a grocery store?


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 10:17 p.m.

Has the place been de-loused yet?


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

When did you tour it?


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 10:14 p.m.

I saw no mention of Common Language Books in Braun Court. While I love the idea of bookstores in general, I have to wonder with Shaman Drum closing and some of the other bookstores struggling to hold on, is this really a viable venture?


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 6:02 a.m.

Printed Books You Can Hold in Your Hands are D-E-A-D. Stick a Fork in them! Obsolete! Going the way of the Scroll and Monk's Calligraphy. Look at Me when I'm Talking to You!

Ypsi Russell

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 10:44 p.m.

And what about Corn Dog Books, on the sidewalk at State and Liberty? They've already seen off Shaman Drum, Borders, and David's, and may well outlast Amazon.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

Bad mojo in that building.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

Maybe well intentioned, but I question the viability of their business plan.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 9:23 p.m.



Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

Well, I can promise one thing...he's not gonna need it. The only way this ---person ---get's re-elected is by buying the office. He needs to start sending the Carl Roves' of the world christmas cards in a hurry. He threw away his political career when he and his cohorts (fellow corporate organ grinders) decided to rile up the 30% of democratic voters who didn't vote in the last gubernatorial election BUT DEFINITELY Will next time.

Unusual Suspect

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 10:51 p.m.

Oh, lefty48197, I just got it. You said "Dick" when his goes by "Rick." Oh, man, you are so smooth and tricky!

Unusual Suspect

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 10:50 p.m.

Agree, EyeHeart. How could he ever pull off another election win after alienating so many far left Ann Arborites?


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

You're going to not vote for him again, I take it? Yet he managed without your support last time I see.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 10:24 p.m.

Dick Snyder has NO intention of running for re-election. His Life's work was to ream the people of Michigan and he's completed his Mission. Back to sending jobs to China as a businessman...


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

Ha ha ha. Tears of impotent rage - fill us up a bottle while you're at it.

David Cahill

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

A bookstore would be great! The new tenant, whoever it is, should hold a "decontamination" ritual of some kind to take the curse off of Snyder's old campaign office.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

Maybe an exorcism.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 11 p.m.

Neat idea Dave! Maybe rent a couple of "moon suits" and stage a flash mob with the two guys dressed up in their EPA gear, appearing with the mob. The guys carry some big fire extinguishers that spray a cloud of dry fumes. Or were thinking more along the lines of a wiccan-type ritual? [for the uninformed, wiccans are "good" witches and warlocks].


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 9:11 p.m.

The other, unmentioned contenders for the spot: 1. A sub sandwich place, most likely a Subway. 2. A bong store. 3. A burger place.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

are?! you??! kidding???!


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 10:25 p.m.

Maybe a thong store as well? Wait, that's been done.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

I am excited about this. I love Nicola's, but it's on the far west side of town. It's also in a strip mall. The prospect of a book store, events, and a general place to read and talk about reading will be popular with me.

Chip Reed

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

A strip mall that has been there since the 1950's (I think Kresge's was what used to be there).

Unusual Suspect

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 10:47 p.m.

"It's also in a strip mall." OH NO!!!

Ben Freed

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

Having grown up in Ann Arbor, I always liked going to the Borders downtown to browse. While I may be a digital journalist, I enjoy flipping through a book and checking out the jacket cover before I buy. Even if this location doesn't work out for them, I hope the new bookstore happens.

John of Saline

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 11:13 p.m.

"Sign." Though I can't guarantee that trigonometry wasn't involved.

John of Saline

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

One Borders store had this sine in the window near the end: "Restrooms closed; try Amazon."


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

Lots of people loved freeloading off of Borders. That's why it's bankrupt.

Gene Alloway

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 9 p.m.

Just sayin' - both Kaleidoscope and Motte & Bailey bookshops are closer to that corner than Dawn Treader, yet got no mention.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.



Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

Bookstore!!!!! we. don't. need. another. nightclub.


Tue, Dec 18, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

@GoNavy: Isn't your ship ready to sail?....


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 9:51 p.m. From what I remember of Borders, most people enjoyed freeloading off of the books and magazines they kept, while walking out and ordering the same items for 20% less online. The same people who want books in the digital age can't seem to let go of rail, despite the Age of Rail having passed decades (if not a century) ago. These same folks probably want the milk man to make daily deliveries, and lament the fact that more people aren't mailing letters through the Post Office.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but there's really no retail on Washington between Main Street and State Street. While I applaud their chutzpah, I can see two glaring problems: 1. The space really isn't big enough to house a general-interest bookstore. 2. That corner doesn't get enough foot traffic. Having said that, the downtown area does need a general-interest bookstore, a place you can pop into between going to a restaurant and seeing a movie at the Michigan. The Jacobsen's/Borders building would be the perfect spot for that.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

You're forgetting the Schakolad chocolate store just east of Main, Renaissance, a clothing store in the McKinley building at Division and Washington, and Babo's, the newish market/deli, also at Washington and Division.

Gene Alloway

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 9:02 p.m.

Rent in that area is too high there now for a bookshop, unless they own the building or perhaps are friends with a building owner.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.



Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 9:49 p.m.

The Internet!


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 7:57 p.m.

I was thinking of purchasing it and making it a shrine to incompetence


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 11:20 p.m.

But I thought you won!

Unusual Suspect

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 10:46 p.m.

sayzme, there is help for your anger. There are professionals who are trained to provide assistance. I encourage you to seek the help you need.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 10:24 p.m.

You would have to be able to pay for it. Something tells me that would be an issue for you.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 10 p.m.

What, a house of mirrors?

John of Saline

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

City Hall is close by. You're duplicating effort.