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Posted on Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

University of Michigan not interested in Borders store property in downtown Ann Arbor

By Nathan Bomey

At least one prospective tenant for the shuttered Borders store in downtown Ann Arbor can be ruled out: the University of Michigan.

"The university has no plans to pursue the former Borders space," U-M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said in an email in a response to an inquiry.


Borders' flagship store on Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor closed Monday.

Nathan Bomey |

U-M's main campus is located just steps away from the former Borders store, which closed Monday, leaving 42,000 square feet of high-profile real estate empty for the first time in about 15 years. But the university is apparently not interested in the Liberty Street space.

The university's lack of interest in the space comes after the University of Chicago announced in July that it had purchased the 25,000-square-foot former Borders building in Hyde Park.

The University of Chicago said in a statement that it "is seeking retail, home goods, entertainment or restaurant tenants for the" former Borders store.

At the former Borders store in Ann Arbor, a repositioning effort is already well underway. Michael Lippitt of real estate firm Landmark Commercial Services told last week that Landmark is in discussions with a possible tenant for the space.

“We have received a legitimate letter of intent that we are reviewing,” he said without revealing details. “I hope we can announce it soon.”

Lippitt said it would fit “very, very well” with the needs of the community.

It is unclear whether the tenant would occupy the entire store or just parts of the building, which had served as the flagship Borders store until the company announced its liquidation.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 9:02 p.m.

All this hate directed at the U of M is sure misguided -- they are the biggest employer in the county, so they generate a ton of of income for this community, a ton of taxes, jobs, etc. Did you see a huge line of people coming in to buy the Pfizer facility? No -- there were no interested parties for months until U of M stepped in and began the process of moving in thousands of jobs, just like they are doing with the expansion of the hospital complex, and enhancements to the facilities in North and Central Campuses, not to mention the money the Athletics Department brings in to Ann Arbor. This city would dry up and collapse without the University, so I'd think some of you better wise up a little bit .... just saying'.


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 3:28 a.m.

Albeit U of M can be aggravating at times, I have to agree with Rob, what other real major employing factor is there in and around this city? Erase U of M from the equation and you could knock this city down to the size of Brighton. The university is the 800 pound gorilla here whether you like it or not.

Tom Teague

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

@Bacon - Is there one bit of evidence to support that claim? Demolition would cost a ton; remediation wouldn't have been cheap; and destroying state-of-the-art assets is not a useful tactic for any kind of cost recovery. Also, it wasn't vacant for very long: The last workers left in October 2008 and the deal with the U of M was completed in June 2009. While I'm sure the taxes were not helpful to the bottom line during that time, it doesn't seem like a long enough drag on the profits to initiate a scorched earth policy. Ten months isn't all that long when you're selling a multi-building site with many laboratories, offices, a day care, a small-scale production plant, high-end warehousing, etc. All that said, I think the University is an ideal owner/operator of the site even if I do miss the benefits that came with it being on the tax rolls.

Bacon Bits

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 11 p.m.

I have first hand knowledge of it, but I don't have anything I can offer for proof. I can tell you they did the same thing in Holland and Kalamazoo. Outside of MI, Pfizer razed sites in West Chester, PA and several in the UK. They were going to donate the vacant land to the city. Instead the U-M Medical School bought it. Maybe it was an idle threat (to demolish the site), and they could have been forcing U-M to make a move, but given Pfizer's track record, I'm glad a solution was found that didn't involve demolition. Pfizer attempted to sell the property, but also would not sell to a major pharma company because of all the insider knowledge they left behind (laid off former employees). In addition, pharma is contracting to a major degree in the United States (and outsourcing). No one would have bought the property and there is no chance Pfizer was going to keep paying property taxes on it.

Tom Teague

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 9 p.m.

Ooops. I meant for this to be a reply to another reply that was posted under Mitch's first post.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 3:12 p.m.

Properties owned by the private sector but leased to the University DO NOT come off the tax rolls.

Buster W.

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 4:01 p.m.

Exactly. It's leased space, it's not for sale.

Dan Pepper

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

The demographics of Ann Arbor could support a True Food Kitchen from Dr. Andrew Weil: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. These are cavernous eateries with attractive decor and a nutrition focused menu.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

It'd be nice to see something in this location other than a restaurant. Ann Arbor is already packed with all sorts of options, including new age, healthful fare.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 2:36 p.m.

I vote for a Zingerman's grocery. Come on Paul and Ari - you could pull it off!

Buster W.

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

And people think Whole Foods is expensive???


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 12:16 p.m.

Thank GOD the very last thing this city needs is the UofM taking more taxes from the City. The Pfizer Pharmaceuticals was the largest tax payer in Ann Arbor and became a HUGE loss the last thing we need is someone without paying taxes to the community. Yes some of us are still mad about that.

Bacon Bits

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 5:06 p.m.

What you don't know: Pfizer was going to demolish the site if U-M didn't buy it. They were not going to keep paying taxes on it and told their plans to the City and U-M. U-M stepped up and bought it. Would you rather have vacant land there or the possibility of U-M creating some jobs using the space?

Bertha Venation

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 1:28 p.m.

Yes, Mitch. I couldn't agree more! We need a company that will pay the property taxes on it. My Mom used to work there when it was Jacobsen's years ago.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 12:43 p.m.

I see no reason to be mad. That was a highly specialized space, and only another pharmaceutical company could come in to occupy it. Given that they're all downsizing and merging with each other, I'm personally happy to see the space being used to employ 1000 people. Even if we're not seeing direct property tax income, we're making sure Ann Arbor residents stay employed, allowing them to pay their property taxes, and to spend money in this town.