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Posted on Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

What does the University of Michigan have planned for South Division Street post-Blimpy?

By Ben Freed

Related Story: Owner: Blimpy Burger must move as University of Michigan buys building

Current Blimpy Burger owner Rich Magner said a deal between property owner Patricia Shafer, widow of Blimpy founder Jim Shafer, and the the University of Michigan will force him to close at that location in 2013.

With the corner building facing a sale, It is unclear whether pending deals also are in the works for the four other buildings on the block as well as two adjacent buildings on East Madison Street.

Two of the buildings on South Division Street are owned by David Copi and managed by Copi Properties. Copi's son, Sam Copi, said that at this point his father still owns the two buildings on South Division Street and has not entered into an agreement to sell to the university.

The four other buildings on the block, two on South Division and two on East Madison Street, are owned by South Division Street Properties LLC, a corporation registered to former University of Michigan athletics director William C. Martin. Those four properties are managed by Arch Realty.

The University of Michigan declined to comment on the situation, but spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said that acquisitions or sales always go to the Board of Regents for approval. The board's next scheduled meeting is December 13, and sources said they expect information on the deal to reach regents that day.

Magner said it's not the first time the university has bought property near Blimpy. About 10 years ago the university bought a block of houses on South Division Street in order to expand a parking structure to open on both Thompson and Division Streets. More recently, two houses at South Division and East Jefferson near the Institute for Social Research were purchased.

"The university sometimes has long-range plans, and if they get an opportunity to get some property that falls within their long-range plan, they have the wherewithal to do the deal," he said.

"That’s the way the university does things."

Magner said he had not talked to any of the rental property owners on the block.

Watch the video below to get a view of the area:

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


Ron Granger

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 10 p.m.

1. Operate Bimpy burger from a semi-tractor trailer 2. Locate it on the front lawn of the Umich Presidents House 3. Profit


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

I must say when I read this all I can remember was getting a normal hamburger and staff that wasn't the most inviting, and my hurt out of town niece who was yelled at for sitting at a table while waiting for me to place an order. If they don't come back I will definetly miss the snow polar bears. If one wants a place with a great hamburger and great staff Sidetracks in Ypsi is not far away.

Tracy Payne

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

Oh my God! We need to know wear r u going to move to! U can't get a burger like that any wear!!!

pooh bear

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

all you have to do it look at the UM's Master Plan from the 1990s to see that they intend to develop this entire block. This should be available online if it isn't already.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

I wonder how long before the U of M Blimpy Burger goes into operation. Just a smoke screen about needing the land for an unnamed project.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

This reminds me of the outrage that occured when they tore down the frieze building. Everyone was up in arms. I shed a tear of joy when they knocked it down bc it meant no one else would ever have to go to another class in that building again. And the u built a beautiful replacement in north quad and the quad thing finally made sense. Oh, and don't forget the u probably made the founder of blimpy a very rich woman. So sheisnt sad.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

I can't really understand all the negativity. The u brings far more to aa then it will ever take in taxes. U buildings are mostly quite nice, and aa probably wouldn't exist wo them, certainly not with the crappy management the city has. As for blimpys I am can't wait for them to move. I stopped going there years ago bc waiting an hour for a burger is stupid. I will genuinely miss the bears, but I am sure they can have them elsewhere. It is strange how often people forget that character isn't an hour wait and shitty customer service bc of limited seating. Why is everything that happens in aa subject to gloom and doom? This city is succeeding greatly despite terrible mismanagement. Everything is ok.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

To rephrase my original comment. Oh no, the sky is falling bc a good business made the founder rich and now has to move to a new location. Gasp, they might actually have seating or parking or more than one cash register. Perish the thought. Life is brutal and cold and the university, the hand that feeds literally 2/3 of the local economy should be bit repeatedly.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

Anybody know when the abusive service began to be tolerated? Because I used to eat there a lot "back in the day" and that sure wasn't the case then. Who would actually alllow a burger flipper to dis them anyway?


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.

It's not the way they treat you that makes it bad customer service, as I said if you read it, it is the limited seating that makes them have all sorts of stupid rules. Though you do have a point. You think that them being a jerk to you kid is fun. That's not what I was referencing at all.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

Dude, the treatment when ordering is part of the experience. I love getting harrassed by Davey and I mdae sure she did it to my kids on their first visit.

WW II Veteran

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

I m relly sorry to see this building go, When I was in Perry School in the 1930's that was a family grocery store and we could buy candy there for pennies


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

I have a plan for the University to implement for the site:

Linda Peck

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

Love the design. It satisfies the need for whatever and the need for burgers, and also the historical society would be pleased.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

OMG! No more Blimpie's? Another example of the U on a power grab. They have no concern with historical properties or traditions in the city. Just build more so they can handle more out of state and foreign students that pay higher tuition. They should go private and pay taxes like any other "business". The U sure doesn't care about Michigan families or their kids.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

I heard a rumor that the U bought the land to make more room for parking. Joni Mitchell was right!


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

BlimpyBurger should be on the Historical Register!


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

suggestion -- don't ask a question in the headline that is not answered in the story What are U-M's plans for this area? University declined comment. That is frustrating as a reader.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 3:49 p.m.

I was going to make the same comment. What a waste of article space.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

BlimpyBurger should be on the Historical Register!

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

It "abuts" the property - not "abets".


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

Get used to it. With more student highrises going up (and showing no sign of slowing down) the traditional student rental house will one day go by the wayside. The real victims of this will be those who own rentals far from campus (e.g. in the neighborhoods between Packard and State... or on the streets connecting Geddes and South University). It won't be long before those go unrented and will stand unoccupied... and the University will have little interest in buying them.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

I'm not sure about that. The postage stamp yards are the ideal plce for a beer pong court. Which is one of the first things a lot of upper class students take into consideration when looking for a place to live.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

The location of a giant laser that zaps runners as they go by?


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

Maybe it will be "U Burgers," given the AD's recent decision to cut out CFC from the Big House run...


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

IF the U is not going to use the property until the other properties on the block have been secured, would they not be able to continue allowing Blimpy Burger to operate on a short-term lease?


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 10:48 a.m.

Rev. John Monteith and Father Gabriel Richard were the first choosen to oversee the new University of Michigania - in Detroit. In 1817 a cornerstone was laid near Bates & Congress downtown Detroit to establish its existence. Today, there is an open parking lot and several properties for sale there. According to the gownies, all it takes to make townies is to build a campus and then expand. I'll bet those same supporters just can't wait to build Detroit's great future after the university moves back home there.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 4:43 a.m.

Something plain and boring...that might have something "whimsical" about it....maybe a Frito chip this time?


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.

Eventually Ann Arbor will consist of the University, Zingerman's and the "Mary Sue Coleman Michigan Theater" and that's about it.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.

Wait, make that 53 "luxury student skyscraper condos," Zingermans, UM buildings galore, the MSC MI theatre, and maybe a Delonis Center expansion for the rest of us...


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.



Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:08 a.m.

If they don't reopen, how will I ever get going on my third triple bypass? Shoot!


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.



Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

Why are people voting this down? It's humorous and true!

Linda Peck

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:35 a.m.

Thanks, Ben, for the update. This is interesting and I will be watching the developments. I know there is nothing the town community can do about it, but it remains an interesting drama for the public anyway. I think many of us are sad to see the landmark Blimpy Burgers go, too, along with other interesting original landmarks in town.

Paula Gardner

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:23 a.m.

I'm wondering if closing Monroe Street could play into the changes.

Stephen Landes

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 8:56 p.m.

Don't worry, Paula, it's one president or the other.......

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 4:47 a.m.

Here's a quick map for reference to the location of some of the buildings referenced in the story for those interested:

Paula Gardner

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:12 a.m.

Ack! Meant Madison. Long day:) And yes, all of the reasons you point out.

Haran Rashes

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:09 a.m.

Paula, I think closing Madison between Thompson and Packard/Division would be more likely. When I was a student in the 80s, there was a rumor going around that the next residence hall would be built on Thompson stretching from the Parking Structure down to Packard and using both parking lots (north and south of Madison). Obviously, that was nothing more than a rumor. However, with the triangle lot south of Madison and the Thompson lot north of Madison and the Blimpy lot, it makes for one giant footprint of land

Dog Guy

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:03 a.m.

The U of M already owns city hall. An enormous electronic sign on that corner could command half of downtown and town and gown would end in a final coup de ville.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

...which rolled off the assembly line in June of 2005.

say it plain

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 12:56 a.m.

UM is getting some major negative press this week! Where's a piece on or from their social media coordinator?! Is she 'managing' the brand okay out on the blogosphere and tweeterverse?!


Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 3:05 a.m.

she's been out to lunch...of course, at Blimpy Burgers!


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 12:54 a.m.

Does it really matter what they put there? I predict Blimpy will do just fine and continue contributing to the health of everyone who frequents them.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 12:44 a.m.

I hope the adjoining properties tell the U to ...... ! More tax payer unlimited funds going to take more property off the tax rolls.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.

Bill, we're all happy the U is here, and of course know the city wouldn't be the same without it. Congrats on completely missing the point.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

If there was no U of M in Ann Arbor do you think Ann Arbor would still be the same city with more tax paying property owners? High tech firms, like Google and others locate to Ann Arbor because of the University, not the outstanding public art. Without the U of M influence, Ann Arbor would be an even smaller town. The reality is that U of M will continue to expand. Ann Arbor needs to embrace change and develop plans that take advantage of the opportunities afforded the city by having a world class university as one of its residents.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

First, that assumes that all U-M employees live in the city, which is definitely not true. Second, by your logic, shouldn't any business in AA that creates jobs also be free from paying taxes? Again, I'm not completely disagreeing, but as a home owner (actually, we unintentionally have two) in the city, I know how painful property taxes already are. And I can promise you I'm WAY more strapped for money than the U is! Blimpy's is small change, but losing Pfizer was not. They were AA's largest tax payer. And now that the U owns the land, that money has to come from somewhere else. We could save a lot by getting rid of all city services, but someone still needs to pay for the art!

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

But the people who work at the University pay taxes and pay taxes on their homes in Ann Arbor and for "community art", etc. Without the University, there would be no property tax, payroll tax, city tax, whatever. And the impact of over 40,000 students? You can't think that doesn't make the difference.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

Elaine, while you're correct, jcj has a very good point. Creating jobs is great, but the U doesn't pay taxes. So when small companies like Blimpy's, and large companies like Pfizer disappear, the tax base gets smaller. That means the remaining contributors are burdened with making up the difference. It's one of the reasons property taxes are already so high in this city. In this case, though, if Blimpy's is able to open in another location, it may all work out for the best.

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

And provide more jobs and more salaries and more fodder for local business. I am amazed at the one-sided view of the University. Without it, kids, there would be no Ann Arbor.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 12:10 a.m.

Too bad the spot where Packard Pub was is spoken for...


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 11:59 p.m.

The U is starting to grind my gears this week.

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

Until you want a job there?