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Posted on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

Developer gets started on preparing vacant Georgetown Mall for February demolition

By Ryan J. Stanton


This new rendering for the Packard Square development on the site of the vacant Georgetown Mall was on display at Monday night's meeting of the Ann Arbor City Council. The color variations are intended to break up the long facade.

Harbor Georgetown LLC

The developer planning to demolish the vacant Georgetown Mall in Ann Arbor says the blighted building could come down by next month.

Bloomfield Hills-based developer Craig Schubiner of Harbor Georgetown LLC won approval from the City Council Monday night for revisions to his plans for a roughly $48 million mixed-use development called Packard Square, which includes retail space and apartments.

Schubiner said preparation work for the demolition, including asbestos and universal waste removal, already started on Monday.

"Once that's complete in about three weeks, then the building demo will start," he said. "There's two different demo contractors involved — one that's been hired by the county and one that's been hired by us, and we are getting everybody together now on a schedule. Our goal is February that it comes down. We want residents and retailers to be moving in summer of 2014."


Council Members Margie Teall, front, and Marcia Higgins, in a file photo from last year. Both say they're hoping the developer of Packard Square delivers on having the Georgetown Mall demolished by next month.

Ryan J. Stanton | file photo

Wendy Rampson, the city's planning manager, said the city has not yet received a permit application for the demolition. As for the asbestos removal, that's regulated by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. A DEQ spokesperson could not be reached on Tuesday.

Schubiner wasn't able to demonstrate project financing to the satisfaction of the DEQ last year to unlock a $1 million state grant for demolition and cleanup costs. He received a six-month extension in October, giving him until April to show he had the money lined up.

The state grant is being administered by the Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and will pay for removal of contaminated soils and demolition of the existing buildings.

City officials said after some lobbying at the state level, the demolition grant was unlocked recently without Schubiner having to show proof of financing for the project. They said that involved a lot of lobbying directly to the director of the DEQ, who decided it was fine.

Schubiner told on Monday the financing for the project is coming along well. "The lenders have ordered their third-party reports and we're heading toward a closing," he said.

Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward, said her talks with the development team in recent days lead her to believe the project financing still isn't locked down.

"We really would love to see this get finished, but I'm losing faith in what I'm being told," Higgins said, adding she's not sure what to believe at this point.

"It's a complicated project that's been going on through a terrible economic time," she added. "I feel bad about that, but I'd also feel a lot more comfortable if when (Schubiner) opened his mouth and talked to me, he told me what was actually happening versus what I need to hear."

Council Member Margie Teall, D-4th Ward, shared Higgins' hesitations about believing the financing is coming together as well as the developer suggests.

"I think he's struggling to try and keep this going and we'll see the proof will be in the pudding," Teall said, adding she hopes Schubiner is right in his prediction that demolition will happen next month.

Schubiner won approval from the City Council in May 2011 to redevelop the 2502 Packard Road site and build a mixed-use project called Packard Square that includes a four-story building containing 230 apartment units and 23,790 square feet of retail space.

The revised building elevations approved by the council Monday night will change the look and feel of the project somewhat. Those changes were discussed in detail at a meeting in December.

The facade changes include a 33 percent reduction in the number of balconies and replacement of brick along the corners of the building on Packard Road with a fiber cement siding. In order to break up the longer elevations and create a rhythm, a pallet of three colors will be used.

Schubiner said the size of the windows was increased, too.

"If you look at the floor plans that are now in for building permit approval, the windows take up most of the wall space in every living room and every bedroom," he said, adding the retail windows also increased in size since the last time the council looked at the project.

Teall still expressed some concerns.

"I wish they had kept the brick," she said. "And the colors they're talking about on the drawings, it looked like a lot of contrast and it tended to break things up too much — too busy."

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.


Jack Eaton

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 10:18 p.m.

It is rather sad that the "good news" is that the neighborhood will have an empty lot. Like the former Kroger at the bottom of the Broadway hill, this shopping center used to provide the neighborhood with a store within walking distance of many homes. What went wrong with our planning and zoning that we have lost these neighborhood shopping centers?

Erich Jensen

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 1:39 a.m.

Everyone said it already.....believe it when I see it happen!


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

Well, if this is true it is about time. However, I hope Schubiner does not leave Ann Arbor with a half finished project as he has been known to do elsewhere.

John Hritz

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

"Developer gets started on preparing vacant Georgetown Mall for February demolition" illustrates the hurry-up-and-wait aspect of this project, but could have been shortened to "Developer preparing vacant Georgetown Mall for February demolition" or perhaps "Long vacant Georgetown Mall razed as early as February" In any event, Hallelujah!!


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 1:01 a.m.

Oh, I wouldn't be surprised if wrote it that way on purpose. In fact, a better headline might have been "owner considers thinking about possibly preparing to start initial work for demolition of Georgetown Mall" - 'cause everyone already said, we'll believe this when we see it. Remember, he's not a "developer" in the traditional sense. He's a longtime owner of the property.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

I don't understand how the artwork can show the building being the same level as the street?


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Tear Georgetown Mall down as quick as possible. This area really needs a grocery store or market so I hope that is part of the "retail" plan.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

While I am eager to get something done there, it does seems like the developer has worn the council down so that they'll approve anything to get rid of that constant reminder of their impotence. But then again it's the 4th ward and not downtown, so they can't get too excited about it. Not when there are windmills and monorails and such than need their attention.

Lets Get Real

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

At least the previous design, with brick and white trim, was more in tune with the Colonial flavor of the other houses in the neighborhood and the townhouse/apartments across the street. Take away the trees and the colorful banners and awnings covering up the building on the renderings, and you've not got much to recommend. Not a project I'd be saying, "Have you seen the new apartments at Packard Square - they are beautiful.' Just another boring building - definitely a drive by. but, better than an empty building - I guess. I agree, if they at least get the building down and the site cleaned up, it would be an improvement.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Um, unless the paint is coming on one skid, you must mean a palette of three colors, not a pallet of three colors.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

Are there any renderings available for the other elevations? Page Ave side, for instance?


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 1:21 a.m.

Before the Georgetown Mall, the land was the site for the Stooges band house, which inspired the Fun House album. I think a plaque needs to be erected commemorating that.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.

"She's got a TV eye on me...."


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

Great album..

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 1:03 a.m.

The way this has been melting down - before it ever gets going - I have every belief it will be a fiasco. There are very good reasons why developers must demonstrate financing before they begin. I'll be holding my breath - so I don't breathe the asbestos.

music to my ear

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 12:41 a.m.

get on with it already, we need jobs ,jobs, jobs.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 12:19 a.m.

Look carefully at this rendering. It is very deceptive. Remove all the trees and landscaping, and this is yet just another unimaginative and cheaply-constructed horseshoe-shaped building around a large central parking lot. Tear down the ruins, but don't let Schubiner build this piece of junk.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 10:42 p.m.

More info I got from Nathan Voght at the county: "We are working right now to coordinate all contracts necessary to complete the demolition and soil remediation on the Packard Square site. As you recall, there is the contract with the county's contractor to perform the grant-funded work, then other work that the owner has to line up. One cannot proceed without the other, so there is some coordination and planning here."


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 12:31 a.m.

Ryan? One is holding their breath and the other ready to dance naked in the streets. What is City Council doing? Nothing. Sounds like our illustrious Congress.

lucinda walsh

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 10:41 p.m.

Sorry, it was featured in the NYT Mag in quite a dramatic photopiece.

lucinda walsh

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 10:37 p.m.

Has anyone really looked at the hulking half-built mess of a development this guy left behind in Bloomfield Township? That was a debacle on such a grand scale it was featured as one of the greateat ruins of the Great Recession.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 5:26 a.m.

Veraccity I read the article you mentioned. It is a lot to digest. Sounds like a major portion of that failure may be strictly to timing - at the beginning of the recession. If indeed we are at the end of the recession, we could have a much better ending. I am not commenting on the design or anything, just on the possibility of the financing getting done. However, there was one item that jumped out at me - that the developer insisted that brownfield clean-up money be provided in order for the project to succeed. Wasn't that tactic used here also - regarding the former dry cleaning business in Georgetown? That makes me wonder if he is playing the same game he did in Pontiac; maybe its the only game he knows? To me, that adds a bit of worry.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 3:41 a.m.

Send a copy of the Schubiner Bloomfield Park fiasco to City Council members though it is too late to influence the approval he received for building the Packard Mall. I can understand why any competent financier would run from Craig Schubiner.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 10:22 p.m.

Glad to see they`re going bring it up to street level

Ann English

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 12:43 a.m.

What are they going to do, bring in a lot of dirt in order to get rid of that "valley," "depression," lower elevation? I do remember how the current Platt Road bridge was built higher than the one before it, but putting a bridge in at a higher elevation is different than putting BUILDINGS in at a higher elevation. I'm trying to imagine a new hill behind the completed buildings, which apparently will be level with Packard Road.

Joe Hood

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 10:17 p.m.

That's a lot of grading for that land (current buildings sit downhill from the road), how does that affect those at the perimeter?

Jack Eaton

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 10:07 p.m.

Imagine if we had a City Council that was interested in protecting our neighborhoods. Rather than continually amending our zoning code to allow ever more extreme projects in our residential areas, perhaps Council could have amended the City Code to require developers to post a performance bond as a condition of receiving approval of a site plan (or even as a condition of receiving an extension to a previously approved site plan). I believe that section 505 (MCL 125.3505) of the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act allows Cities to adopt such security bonding requirements. Even after the Michigan Inn fiasco, the Greek Chapel episode and this endless parade of broken promises about the Georgetown Mall site, the City has failed to provide any protection to neighborhoods from long vacant buildings. Just once it would be nice to see our Council amend the City Code to protect residents from reckless development schemes.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 9:33 p.m.

Rather see a 4 megawatt solar power plant surrounded by ornamental pine trees. This version looks better but it is still a development bringing in more people, more congestion, and greater city service cost requiring even more development. Most people don't comprehend that each new resident actually costs more. The long term community price is hidden behind the short term profit advertised by a few. When the next infrastructure and city service bill comes due ask yourself (and those DDA admirers) why you are still paying more after all of this massive "economic growth". The solar power plant is boring. It only generates pure money for the community.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

Everyone holding their breath? I will be glad to see it come down and something new built there.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 12:29 a.m.

Still holding my breath and nothing yet.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 9:01 p.m.

"after some lobbying at the state level" Who was doing the lobbying? The city or the developer?

Richard Carter

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 9 p.m.

Lobbying in the form of "trust me, I'll get the money?" If it's that certain, why not just have a signed agreement or letters of intent from the lenders?

Sarah MacDonald

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

looks amazing!


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

I'll start to believe it when I see ruble.I'll really believe it when its hauled away.

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

"Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward, said her talks with the development team in recent days lead her to believe the project financing still isn't locked down. "We really would love to see this get finished, but I'm losing faith in what I'm being told," Higgins said, adding she's not sure what to believe at this point." Much in the same way you took credit for this Ms. Higgins, in your run for City Council last year? Lol.

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 8:58 p.m.

Apparently Ms. Teall deleted this from her website (after the election...): Georgetown Mall Demolition Moves Forward 08/06/2012 Positive work in the 4th Ward!

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 8:54 p.m.

I know...can I just delete I meant to type Teall's name in a clever attempt to use Higgins' words against her...and hit post before I edited. Oops. But you might want to ask Teall if she's still taking political credit for this fiasco.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

Higgins didn't run for council last year. She's up for re-election this year, though.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 8:28 p.m.

Is this piece of property currently the worst mess in A2? It will be great when it's fixed.

Lets Get Real

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

Yes, and it has certainly affected property values - given the recent comps on homes in the area.

5c0++ H4d13y

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 11:37 a.m.

Some of the motels between 94 and jackson are a mess.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

That was suppose to be a Tim Hortons and somehow from what I heard that deal fell thru. So I have no idea if anything is going to happen to that piece of blight. I think Ann Arbor needs to get a hint from Ypsi Township when it comes to tearing down buildings.

Tony Livingston

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 10:11 p.m.

Don't forget about the Chinese restaurant in Maple Village that has been sitting burned out for the last 10 years.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 9:09 p.m.

At least this place has a roof. My vote for worst mess is North Main at Summit. Even if they tear Georgetown Mall down and financing falls through for construction they will have helped the city. It has happened before with other projects and it worked out. A properly cleared site is almost always better, if the existing building is of little value. We could always hope for a park instead.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 8:20 p.m.

I love the renderings. Do it!


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

I sure hope it's true, but I'll believe it when I see it. They haven't hit a date yet. Ever. On the other hand, there were 5 or 6 vehicles at the mall today, so there appears to be something going on.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

"The developer planning to demolish the vacant Georgetown Mall in Ann Arbor says the blighted building could come down by next month." I think the word to look out for here is "could". I'll dance naked in the street if this actually occurs. This is such a nice area that deserves a lovely new development. I wish everyone involved get get their act together.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

Frank, I just might join you! how's THAT for scary?


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 12:27 a.m.

Let me know when so I can sell tickets and get front row seats. On second thought I might just join you. Scary thought.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 8:49 p.m.

I wonder if will cover your naked dancing... :)