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Posted on Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

As Costco construction nears, several Ann Arbor businesses forced to move

By Lizzy Alfs


Eight buildings in the Airport Plaza industrial park in Pittsfield Township have been vacated to make room for the Costco development, forcing many businesses to relocate.

Lizzy Alfs |

Once bustling with business activity, a portion of the Airport Plaza industrial park in Pittsfield Township is now almost completely vacated, making room for the soon-to-be built Costco warehouse store near the corner of State and Ellsworth.

To build the 148,000-square-foot store, eight existing office buildings have to be demolished on the property, which is owned by local developer Jake Haas.

Multiple tenants occupied several of the buildings, and after hearing news of the Costco development, the businesses were forced to pack up and move out.

“Some of the tenants found new homes (at) other places, and then some tenants chose to relocate nearby and still rent from me,” said Haas.


Some minor construction work has already started at the site of the new Costco warehouse store.

Lizzy Alfs |

The Airport Plaza industrial park has a total of 37 office buildings. Since some of the buildings were partially vacant, Haas said he worked with many of the displaced businesses to relocate them inside the industrial park.

“The tenants were all taken care of, and generally, it was a win-win for everybody,” Haas said.

Some of the displaced businesses included Campbell Mechanical Inc., PKSA Karate, Kantner & Associates, Mayaterials, Symorex, Body Specs, Inc., White Crane Karate Jutsu and Cybernet Systems Corporation.

The only remaining tenant in the eight soon-to-be demolished buildings is the Ann Arbor Fire Protection, which will relocate within the industrial park in the coming weeks.

Although the businesses were given warning of the Costco development months before it received final approval from the Pittsfield Township Planning Commission, Patrick Lewis of Cybernet Systems Corporation said the move was still “very annoying.”

Cybernet, a commercial research and development lab, relocated to 3885 Research Park Drive, just across State Street from the industrial park.

“It wasn’t fun, but it didn’t really hurt us," he said. "We had been thinking about a new building with more space for years, so this brought us into action.”

Chris Erickson of Symorex agreed and said moving was inconvenient, but the business has now settled in a different space within the industrial park, right across from Zingerman’s Bakehouse.

“Jake was very supportive of the people that had to move,” Erickson said. “Moving is always a pain, but it was understandable. And it gives you an opportunity to look forward.”

Other businesses that relocated to new buildings in the industrial park included PKSA Karate, Body Specs, Inc. and Kantner & Associates.

Campbell Mechanical Inc. moved to a location in Ypsilanti Township on James L. Hart Parkway. Mayaterials moved to a space on Highland Drive in Ann Arbor.

Final plans for the Costco warehouse store received approval from the Pittsfield Township Planning Commission in early August. Officials have said the store could be open by summer 2012.

Although Haas declined to comment on an official timeline for Costco construction, he said he looks forward to having the new business in the area.

“It’s great for the community,” he said. “The jobs it’s going to produce, the income it’s going to bring to the area. It’s just a positive win-win for everybody.”

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



Mon, Sep 12, 2011 : 7:29 p.m.

What has delayed construction?


Thu, Aug 25, 2011 : 2:27 a.m.

The lines at Sams makes me want to vomit, what really torques me is how they know they're going to be busy, don't staff enough lanes, then while you wait for 30min there are random Sam's employees walking around with nothing to do. No more Sams for me!


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

Why is this even a story?? We already knew this. No news day again...

West of Main

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

I don't pay to shop anywhere.


Thu, Aug 25, 2011 : 8:38 p.m.

good for you

West of Main

Thu, Aug 25, 2011 : 12:27 a.m.

Of course I pay for things. Don't bring this down the the level of the absurd. Also, I hope at least some of you will appreciate the irony of somebody who pays to shop at exclusive stores lecturing me about "coolness."


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 11:26 p.m.

So you steal all the things you get at the store? You PAY to shop every single place you go, unless of course you are admitting to being a thief. You may not buy a membership per se, but you do pay. Bu then again, you really have nothing to offer the conversation other than to make people think you are so much cooler because you don't pay for a membership. Get over yourself.

West of Main

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 8:25 p.m.

Yes, and preferably without paying a membership fee to buy one. Keep on enjoying your "bargain shopping," though.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 7:31 p.m.

You want a cookie?


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 6:29 p.m.

Good, one less person to get in my way when I'm moving through the isles on a crowded Sunday afternoon.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

From Bloomberg Business Week: 'Given Costco's performance, the question for Wall Street shouldn't be why Costco isn't more like Wal-Mart. Rather, why can't Wal-Mart deliver high shareholder returns and high living standards for its workforce? Says Costco CEO James D. Sinegal: "Paying your employees well is not only the right thing to do but it makes for good business." Look at how Costco pulls it off. Although Sam's $11.52 hourly average wage for full-timers tops the $9.64 earned by a typical Wal-Mart worker, it's still nearly 40% less than Costco's $15.97. Costco also shells out thousands more a year for workers' health and retirement and includes more of them in its health care, 401(k), and profit-sharing plans. "They take a very pro-employee attitude," says Rome Aloise, chief Costco negotiator for the Teamsters, which represents 14,000 Costco workers. In return for all this generosity, Costco gets one of the most productive and loyal workforces in all of retailing. Only 6% of employees leave after the first year, compared with 21% at Sam's. That saves tons, since Wal-Mart says it costs $2,500 per worker just to test, interview, and train a new hire. Costco's motivated employees also sell more: $795 of sales per square foot, vs. only $516 at Sam's and $411 at BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. (BJ ), its other primary club rival. "Employees are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done," says Julie Molina, a 17-year Costco worker in South San Francisco, Calif., who makes $17.82 an hour, plus bonuses. MANAGEMENT SAVVY. Costco's productive workforce more than offsets the higher expense. Its labor and overhead tab, also called its selling, general, and administrative costs (SG&A), total just 9.8% of revenue. While Wal-Mart declines to break out Sam's SG&A, it's likely higher than Costco's but lower than Wal-Mart's 17%. At Target (TGT ), it's 24%. "Paying higher wages translates into more efficiency," says Costco Chief Finan


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 6:29 p.m.

Also, the President and CEO of Costco has a base salary of $350,000 per year. He is entitled to bonuses based on performance (same as employees). In 2010 it totaled about $190k. In comparison, the CEO of SAMS (not of WalMart, but just the warehouse club division) has this as a NEW HIRE "Wal-Mart will be giving Cornell a $1 million signing bonus, an annual salary of $800,000 and $2 million in restricted Wal-Mart stock." By the way, Costco revenue last year $77.9 BILLION, Sam's Club's $46.8 billion. Costco takes care of their employees and does not believe in making society more haves and have nots.

Stupid Hick

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

Hear, hear! As every Tea Partier knows, US worker compensation packages are not actually determined by free market forces, but rather the selfless beneficence of business owners. The amount a US worker "earns" in excess of $200 per month (what an average Chinese worker earns) is charity!


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 5 p.m.

I find it difficult to expect any company to "gift" employees all of these benefits. A decent day's pay for a decent day's work....that's all any employee is entitled to. All of the "benefits" added on just come out of my pocket at the end of the day...

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 4:28 p.m.

thanks for the post Townie. An interesting read.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 3:33 p.m.

Does anyone reading this story think the reporter who wrote it is making $20 an hour? Most reporters from Ann Arbor News did not make $20 an hour ... I would venture most reporters starting out make less than $15 an hour folks!!!


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 3:23 p.m.

$10-$22 an hour are now considered low wages? Are you kidding me? Then you turn around and call these positions "unskilled". Let me guess...UAW? I know a LOT of hard working unemployed folks who would kill to make anything even close to 20 bucks an hour. I know, maybe we should bring in some undocumented workers to take those jobs, since apparently it's just too much like slave labor for the rest of us. Geezus.


Thu, Aug 25, 2011 : 12:26 a.m.

Thank you. It's very insulting and highly deprived view of the real world.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

costco might make money on the memberships and by selling odd packages. But any informed shopper will know what is and isn't a good deal. Perscription are cheaper there (and by state law you can go in and get perscriptions filled at the costco pharmacy without a membership, when they ask to see your member card at the door you just say you are going to the pharmacy) also, getting your perscription eyeglass done there is cheaper too, getting a new set of tires is there is good too. Getting one of their cakes is good too, a lot of places (krogers etc) get their cakes shipped frozen, even the custom cakes, costcos are never frozen. We often buy a whole beef tenderloin, then portion them out and freeze them ourselves, a filet than is only around six bucks a serving. There return policy is also good, we had a problem with an electronic item, which developed after several months of non abusive use. They exchanged it without a problem. Costco is much better than Sams club


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 2:47 p.m.

("It's great for the community," he said. "The jobs it's going to produce, the income it's going to bring to the area. It's just a positive win-win for everybody.") I can't imagine Costco pays or treats their employees any better than Walmart. According to, salaries range from $10-$22 per hour. Not the worst, but certainly not middle class. Just another source of low wage, low benefit, low appreciation, unskilled positions available working for a very large retailer selling more stuff made in China so the politicians can add numbers to the jobs report and pat themselves on the back to make it look like they are doing something.


Thu, Aug 25, 2011 : 12:24 a.m.

Wow, you must have a very skewed view of the world if you think $10-$22 ISN'T middle class. And CERTAINLY NOT low wage!! I'd kill for that kind of money! I work a min wage ($7.40) job right now. And I'm not some unskilled worker, thank you very much. This is so insulting.


Thu, Aug 25, 2011 : 12:20 a.m.

Quintessential Ann Arbor...demonize Costco for investing in our economy by spending thousands of dollars to build the space and providing hundreds of local jobs to people, thereafter. Funny how A2's limousine liberals always have "something" to say (albeit, none of which ever includes a fiscally workable alternative). Shall we simply keep the scores of unemployed Michiganders on the public dole, instead? Feel free to tee up a solution when you get home later from your swanky meal downtown. At least you drove a Prius, right?

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 7:47 p.m.

You should go to the Costco in Brighton, djacks, and tell all the workers all about your theories. I'm sure they would be delighted to join your "middle class" at whatever wages you're paying. Oh... you don't really have a solution, do you?


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

$10 to $22/hr...only in Ann Arbor would these wages be considered low...out in the "real" world, a lot of people get by on this amount and live decently...just not like annarborites...I mean where else is low income housing rated at $17.30/hr full time for a single to qualify...only in a2, folks...not the real Michigan, and the majority of applicants will not be from a2, we have no unskilled labor...everyone pretty much knows it all...LOL


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 4:40 p.m.

If you read independent assessments of Costco's employee satisfaction, it's very high - one of the best in the big box retail category. There's no comparison between them and Walmart.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 3:56 p.m.

There is no question that Costco treats its employees far better than Walmart does. That said, store jobs are not the top tier.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 12:09 p.m.

With the booming local economy, I wonder how difficult it was for these businesses to relocate? Did anyone find out if Costco will be able to find workers for this store?


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 11:54 a.m.

We are looking forward to a Costcos and an alternative to SAM'S CLUB. I hope they do not do what SAMS CLUB does..move the merchandise to different parts of the store just when you learned where things are. This has been VERY annoying at Sam's!....also tired of Sam's Club "sales pitching" when you are in line checking out. I got held up several minutes once because someone in front of me got infoed about upgrading their membership by the fast talking guy in charge of this who came in....I'll be GLAD to shop somewhere else....besides I am tired of supporting the Walton's empire while they disregard their employees.

Joe Kidd

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 5:31 p.m.

I'm with you Chris8. I do the computations too. They do not always offer a lower price, but on some items the prices are always better. We shop at both Sam's and Costco and I would prefer one over the other but it is frustrating when one has an item the other doesn't or the prices are so different. I get much better prices on some food at Sams than Costco. Other than that I see them as pretty much mirror images of each other and I see little overall difference. Also you really have to be somewhat of a frequent buyer of cost saving items just to make up the membership fee.

Chris 8 - YPSI PRIDE

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.

As a shopper of just about every major Warehouse Club (also a former employee of one) I can only tell you to get used to everything moving around to different places. This is how the higher ups keep the prices as low as possible.Their buyers are compensated very well for finding the best deals.This may require putting something else in place of what you usually find in lets say its normal spot. I must tell you another secret about these places. Sometimes the prices are the same if not more then just going to the local retail store. The way this is done is they purchase odd sized merchandise. (l.e, a 32 pack of soda, a 35 ounce container of coffee creamer, an 11 oz bag of dog treats, 147 paper cups) What I do sometimes is calculate the price per pound or ounce or piece using division. I do the same at retail stores. Retail stores make it easy at times by posting this in the orange portion of their shelf label. If you do this you will get a very accurate idea of what you are paying and whether it is a bargin worth shopping around for. These places make most of their profit on the Memberships. That is why you will find someone somewhere in the store pushing their Membership so hard. If you buy without a Membership you will pay an upcharge (usually a percentage) on everything you buy. The Walton's empire is going to come crashing down I would guess over the next 10 years. They are opening stores at an alarming rate, Ther are 3 Sam's clubs and 5 Walmarts within a lets say 15 mile radius of Ann Arbor. It could be more these are the one I know of. That is way to many for the population in the general area. Thew Walton children handed over their empire to a Management Company who are a bunch of number crunchers. They are interested in keeping numbers in line for the stock holders. They do not give a hoot about Customers or Employees. There have been some internal changes for the better as far as treatment of employees, however they have quite a ways to go.Pay is 1 issue.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 12:47 p.m.

Since you've never been to a Costco before, I shop at the Brighton location and they do the sales pitch of upgrading your membership while you're standing in the line. I prefer Costco over Sam's but that is very annoying. Also, just when you find something you like, the next time you visit, they no longer sell it. Oh and they do move things all the time as well, must be a wholesale warehouse thing.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

I agree. I'm also tired of supporting China. KEEP the MONEY in our country.

Mike D.

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 11:41 a.m.

While I empathize with the companies that had to move, it sounds like Haas did what he could to support them. Big picture, Ann Arbor has a glut of office space, so it makes sense to take some of it off the market and put it to better use. The old law of supply and demand tends to balance things out that way. I can't wait to buy fifths of S. Pellegrino for $1 each without having to wait for a sale.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 5:56 p.m.

Ah, Pellegrino! Buying it in bulk is one of the major reasons I will leave Ann Arbor to drive to a Costco. I also hope we get a gas station with this store. I've been to several around the country and have always found that they are 5-10 cents cheaper per gallon. Can't wait to shop at a Costco in Washtenaw County!

simply amazed

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 3:11 p.m.

None of his space is technically categorized as office space, but rather light industrial or flex space. While some have offices in them, the demolition of those buildings has no bearing on office space vacancy. I do believe, however, that with all the vacancy of light industrial/flex space in that area, demolition might well qualify as highest and best use.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 12:20 p.m.

No Haas just drove most of his tenants out of business with his high prices!

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 11:39 a.m.

At least they are moving to make way for something other than a vacant field like the businesses along the south side of Washtenaw between Platt and Huron Parkway did.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 11:37 a.m.

White Crane Karate Jutsu went out of business two years ago. Thus, they weren't "forced to move" by the Costco construction.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 11:19 a.m.

I am looking forward to the store opening. You don't have to get all dressed up to shop at Costco like you do at Sam's.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

High Larious.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 6:15 p.m.

At Sams Club and Wal Mart the women are required to wear stretch pants and curlers in their hair. Men are forced to wear pants that allow the entire world to see their plumbers crack. Costco is a crack free shopping experience.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 4:49 p.m.

hahaha...I hear ya...I always feel "underdressed...especially if I'm wearing clean clothes...


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 2:28 p.m.

This my favorite comment of the day.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 12:38 p.m.

what? I've Never "dressed up" to shop @ Sams. Costco is MUCH better than Sams.


Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 12:34 p.m.