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Posted on Fri, May 11, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

$1M state grant will fund demolition of blighted Georgetown Mall property in Ann Arbor

By Ryan J. Stanton


A $1 million Michigan DEQ grant will fund demolition of the blighted Georgetown strip mall on Packard Street in Ann Arbor.

Angela J. Cesere |

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on Friday announced a $1 million brownfield grant to help redevelop the former Georgetown Mall site in Ann Arbor.

The 6.7-acre site on Packard Street, vacant since 2009, has three dilapidated buildings and has been a concern to neighbors due to vandalism and vagrants.

"After years of working with neighbors, the state, the county and the developer, I am very pleased that the old Georgetown Mall will finally come down," City Council Member Margie Teall, D-4th Ward, said in a statement. "This is a tremendous benefit for the neighborhood."

Past development efforts have been hindered by contamination of soils under the building with perchlorethylene, a chemical used by a dry cleaning business that once operated in the mall.

DEQ officials said the contamination appears to be contained and has not impacted neighboring residents.

The state's grant will be administered by the Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. It will pay for removal of contaminated soils and demolition of the existing buildings.


The blighted Georgetown Mall property in Ann Arbor will be cleaned up thanks to a DEQ grant announced on Friday. files

"We are thrilled to see this project move forward, and to partner with the MDEQ to facilitate site cleanup with this grant," County Administrator Verna McDaniel said in a statement.

The new development project is the result of meetings with residents, city and county officials and market studies conducted by the developer, Packard Square LLC.

The Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously in May 2011 to approve a site plan for Packard Square, a $48.2 million redevelopment of the blighted Georgetown Mall property.

A county official said the developer is taking all the risk with the cleanup. The city and county will not have to front any funds, and therefore will not lose anything if the project isn't financed.

Bloomfield Hills-based developer Craig Schubiner of Harbor Georgetown LLC plans to construct a four-story, mixed-use building containing 230 apartment units and 23,790 square feet of retail space. It's expected to include a 144-space parking garage underneath the apartment building, as well as 310 surface parking spaces.

Schubiner said last year he hoped to break ground on the project in August 2011 and have it completed by the end of 2012 or early 2013.

Amenities for the residential component include indoor recreational facilities and an outdoor pool and courtyard.

The development is designed to be pedestrian friendly, and will provide for a new bus stop, secure bicycle parking, and a pocket park with native plant species. Onsite stormwater management will include underground detention and natural filtration.

The completed residential and commercial spaces will encourage recycling and include energy efficient appliances and fixtures.

The redevelopment project now has approval from the Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, the city of Ann Arbor, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and the DEQ for state and local tax-increment financing for infrastructure, site preparation and other environmental activities.

The MEDC approved about $2 million of tax capture, and the DEQ approved about $1.2 million in eligible environmental activities.

According to a DEQ news release, the project, now estimated at "more than $46 million," will provide construction jobs as well as 45 permanent jobs associated with the retail portion.

The completed project will add an estimated $500,000 annually in tax revenue to the community, according to the news release.

Nathan Voght, an economic development specialist with the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development, provided an update on the Packard Square project and DEQ grant in an April 24 email to city and county officials.

He said a meeting with the developer and DEQ a few weeks back had resulted in the DEQ offering to award the grant to the county, with the condition that the developer show project financing within 120 days of grant award. The concern on the part of the DEQ, Voght said, was giving the grant to a project that doesn’t occur.

Voght said the county was ready to issue a request for proposals for an environmental consultant to assist the county with the grant administration.

Any funds the county expends in grant administration on an environmental consultant during the 120 days between the time the grant is awarded and the developer demonstrates or doesn't demonstrate project financing, the DEQ has committed to reimbursing.

"Therefore, the county is not risking any funds if the developer does not finance the project," Voght said in the email. "In addition, any cleanup work conducted by the county will be paid for by the developer and then get reimbursed by the grant."

Once the work actually begins, demolition and remediation should not take more than 60 days, according to a construction schedule cited by Voght.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


A conceptual image of the Packard Square project that will be built after the Georgetown Mall is demolished and the site is cleaned up.

From The Harbor Companies LLC


Eric Douglas

Fri, May 25, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

If the development goes, the square and buildings brought to the street would fit nicely into that area. I think we can all now finally say that the shopping mall as we've known it is a dead, failed concept and should not be repeated again, save for the uber-rich in Troy and West Palm Beach. People do not what to shop that way anymore.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

Tear it down ASAP. I really hope they put a market or grocery store in the retail section of the new building.


Sun, May 13, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

I'd love to see a Krogers go back in there. Get rid of that nasty blight on Stadium called a rude Krogers. Will never go back in again.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

This was such a vibrant economic area. This Krogers really cared about the community. We were always greeted in such a courteous way and that gift card shop? Wow. Great ladies. Even though the drugstore changed hands, it was great to walk in and have something in the neighborhood. Now? It is blighted and all I can say is this. What a waste. What a shame to make people move out of a job they love. I hate the Krogers on Stadium and S Industrial. Very rude people. I really hate driving more then a mile to get anything. There is nothing in Georgtown area and the elder now have to suffer because of greed. Good luck and sorry to see it being demolished.

Ann English

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 11:18 p.m.

I heard a few days ago that the South Industrial Kroger is hiring; I'd like to think that some employees got fired for being very rude to you, jns131. When they first took over that store building that used to be an A & P, I thought they were greedy; the Georgetown Mall was so nearby with a Kroger already, didn't we have enough Kroger locations without opening that one? I haven't been to that Kroger on Stadium for years, but remember it being smaller than other locations, including the Georgetown Mall one.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

Just happy to see that something positive is going to happen to that site.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

Sure would like to see this money paid back over time by the developer! Another Free Lunch paid for by the taxpayers. I guess it is better to help out this developer than help out some poor unemployed mom.

Steve Hendel

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

It is NOT encouraging to read that the developer has already missed one set of promised start dates for the project. Will the State and the County hold the developer to hid promises on financing?


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

"he hoped to break ground on the project in August 2011 " Hardly sounds like a "promised start date", does it?


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:01 p.m.

Grant from the state ???? like the magic obama bucks these things don't appear out of thin air they come out of my wallet. Would love to see this come to together , but in 2 years you will probably have a weed infested semi paved lot sitting there sans buildings..I want the old Krogers back


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

Could not agree more. Now you see it? Now you don't.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:45 a.m.

will slick Rick allow this?Oh yea he took money from old people to help defray business costs.Sorry I forgot


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 1:26 a.m.

Whoa!! According to Republican Principles: there can be NO interference by government in the workings of the Free Market!! No exceptions!! LOL! The Free Market has no need for government handouts! LOL! The Free Market always provides the best solutions to problems involving "THE MARKET" - LOL! All businesses are operated by Heroic Entrepreneurial Private Capital Genius Saints!! LOL! I'm sure that His Lordship Governor $nyder will be hurling lightning bolts at this Socialist Pseudo-Scientifc, Anti-Christian Grant Plan. He will put Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County under a Pure Capitalist Business Management Czar AND will offer the poor, beleaguered Heroic Developer free tax exemption for life for whatever money-making scheme said Heroic Developer wants to perpetrate... sorry... operate on that site. LOL! Save us AGAIN, your Lordship $nyder!! LOL!


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 10:08 p.m.

As a long-time resident of the neighborhood that is certainly welcome news. I hope it can all come together eventually and become a nice addition to the area. I'm ready to see something happening. Just a quick comment on the developer - I've contacted them on a handful of occasions over the last couple of years about mall "maintenance issues" (snow removal, graffiti, etc.) and in every case they took action in a timely manner.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

Lets see what to build thee?Why another apartment complex of course.

Ron Granger

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 9:31 p.m.

Why must we pay the demolition costs for this for-profit corporate venture? Surely there are better uses of our tax dollars. This is the 99%, handing over their paychecks to wealthy business "elite".

Georgetown Dad

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:54 p.m.

Hooray! This is great news. (I also believe this drawing is out of date. I went to the planning meeting last year and the current drawings are different. I thought I had a link for them somwhere, but I can't find it.)

Ann English

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 11:09 p.m.

Whatever the building plans are, they'd better fit the topography of the area. I've never heard of a retail area being built on one side into a hill, just part of Huron High School close to Huron Parkway, and a residence a few doors down from me. Those two hills don't have any busy street right next to them, but forest or houses nearby sitting on another road, one that dead-ends right on the other side of the hill.

Attempted Voice of Reason

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:20 p.m.

Does anybody know why all these dry cleaning sites are contaminated? I know they work with strong chemicals, but it always seemed to me that these chemicals should be staying in the store, and (at worst) getting into the sewage and the air around the site--I'm confused how they're absorbing into the soil and sticking around for decades. Are they seeping through storage containers and concrete floors?

Basic Bob

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:16 p.m.

Venting of dryers to the outside air, improper disposal of filter media, and leaky pipes are some of the ways.

Robert Granville

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

Revenue is more important than any amount of environmental impact. That is why these kinds of thing happen and will continue to happen until the earth is barren or humans extinct, or both.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:06 p.m.

I'm not holding my breath, but I look forward to it being gone in the near future. It is quite the eyesore.

Dog Guy

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

"A conceptual image of the Packard Square project" may be a stock drawing of any mall project. The actual site is no more relevant in this illustration than the people depicted on a sidewalk. This oneiric exercise will not go to a city engineer or anyone with any competence in development and is intended only for a city council.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.

Hopefully they actually pull this off. That space is pretty terrible now. Can we get someone to put something on the south side of Washtenaw between Platte and Huron Parkway next?


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

It's my understanding that there's a similar mixed-use type building (retail, offices) going in that spot. But when is anybody's guess...


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

Not quite a done deal "He said a meeting with the developer and DEQ a few weeks back had resulted in the DEQ offering to award the grant to the county, with the condition that the developer show project financing within 120 days of grant award. The concern on the part of the DEQ, Voght said, was giving the grant to a project that doesn't occur."


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:41 p.m.

In California they are going after ther drycleaners and all their equipment and chemical suppliers for the perchloroethylene contamination they have left behind. Have we tried that here? Or, are we content in just throwing taxpayers money at it and not going after the responsible parties.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

DoW Chemical is out of business? You better let someone in Midland know


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:06 p.m.

If the dry cleaner is out of business, how would you propose they go after them? Sue them? They file BK (maybe they already have) and there is nothing you can collect from them. I would also say, f the state said in an earlier era that it was OK to do something, and the drycleaner made decisions based on that promise, ow can they be held responsible? It would be like saying the current speed limit is 30, but it used to be 20, so any person caught doing 25 should get a ticket in those past years. People and businesses follow the law AT THAT TIME.

Irwin Daniels

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:21 p.m.

The original plan was "to start the project in August 2011 and have it completed by the end of 2012 or early 2013." The above article is not stating the new time line, Mr. Stanton do you or can you find out the new timeline? Also will they need to shut down part of Packard during this project?

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

We'll have more stories on this project and more details will come out. I'll try to find out the answers to those questions. Thanks.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

I've said this many times, this project will never get off the ground. Developer has more baggage than Delta Airlines. Can't imagine anyone loaning money to this guy, especially given what he did in Pontiac. Maybe we can use as urban farm land...

Wolf's Bane

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

Good news. However, had nothing to do with Council Member Margie Teall.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

Great! We get to foot the bill for their screw ups...again! We are "The State", ya' know...

average joe

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:15 a.m.

I agree justcurious- Didn't the developer purchase the property 'as-is'? I don't think the state was included in the purchasing negotiations. Johnny- The owner becomes responsible for the clean-up when he took ownership, unless of course there was a clause in the purchasing agreement.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

You prefer the lot sit empty? Then the state and city will be required to fit the bill for police and fire protection as vandals continue to destroy the place. The owner of the property was NOT responsible for the drycleaner that polluted the ground.

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

Guess Ms. Teall was too busy working on her press release for this she didn't have time to show up at the last City Council meeting? Lol.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.


Alan Goldsmith

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 4:48 p.m.

"After years of working with neighbors, the state, the county and the developer, I am very pleased that the old Georgetown Mall will finally come down," City Council Member Margie Teall, D-4th Ward, said in a statement. "This is a tremendous benefit for the neighborhood." Look who has screwed this issue up for years, failed to act or reply to emails and now, MAGICALLY, she's taking credit a few weeks before the August primary for her reelection. I guess if the emails had been titled 2 Per Cent For Art Rally you would have been all over it? I love politician taking credit for OUR tax dollars going to bail out the City's and private business' failures.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

I am wondering the same thing, along with why it takes so long to get a mess removed from property. Since most owners of property like this one are very well off, why do we put up with many years of letting it rot, and to top it all off WE end up paying for the removal via our tax dollars.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

Margie who? She's been absent for years on this mess and now wants credit? Is an election pending by chance in Ward 4? She's issued more statements in two months than in two years, but is still absent from Council meetings and has historically failed to respond to constituent concerns. No to Margie Teall in November!


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

Glad this project is moving forward, although at glacier pace. Just curious if there are newer, more updated architectural drawings that show how the new building will fit into the actual space, with the hill/slope? (This picture makes the building appear to be a street level.)


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

I second this. The drawings supplied so far by have not satisfied the curiosity of its readers. What will the complex look like from Page Avenue? Where will the entrance(s) to the parking garage be? Where the heck will they find room for 310 "surface" spaces, given that the drawing we've all seen doesn't appear to have any spaces at all? Surely the developer has such drawings, and the City Council must have seen them. Can we see them too?