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Posted on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Georgetown Mall demolition nearing final stages, remaining site work to wrap up by late July

By Ryan J. Stanton

Following four weeks of demolition work, most of Ann Arbor's former Georgetown Mall has been reduced to rubble — much to the delight of nearby residents.

"I saw it this morning and it's fully demolished except for the ATM that used to be in front of the Rite Aid," Jennifer Nguyen, a representative of the Georgetown neighborhood, said on Tuesday.


Demolition work Tuesday, June 25 at the former Georgetown Mall site on Packard Road in Ann Arbor.

Daniel Brenner |

"Everyone is thrilled to have it gone. There's a lot of excitement in the neighborhood."

Nathan Voght, Washtenaw County's brownfield redevelopment coordinator, said the demolition work being partially funded by a $1 million state grant is on schedule to wrap up by the end of July.

With the demolition of the buildings finished, crews will turn their attention to other remaining work, including ripping out old light poles, the asphalt parking lot, curbing and other features.

They'll then level the site and prepare it for vertical development — an already approved, mixed-use project called Packard Square.

Bloomfield Hills-based developer Craig Schubiner of Harbor Georgetown LLC has plans to redevelop the 2502 Packard Road site and build a four-story building containing 230 apartment units and 23,790 square feet of retail space. Schubiner could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

City records show a company called PSAA LLC, working with architect Built Form, already applied for a building permit for Packard Square back on Nov. 13. The permit remains under review.

Bruce Measom, an attorney for the project, told City Council members on June 17 the plan is to start construction as soon as possible once the demolition is done.

"The demolition dragged on, so I'll believe it when I actually see it," said City Council Member Margie Teall, D-4th Ward.

Teall said she's "extremely happy" to see the blighted mall finally taken down because it was dangerous and attracted vandals and squatters.

Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward, said she's taking the developer at his word that he'll be able to finish lining up the financing.

"I'm excited," she said. "We worked very hard to get it this far and I'm very hopeful the developer will be able to move forward with the project as quickly as possible.

"I hope it turns out to be as good of a project as they presented to us," she added. "I think that will be great for that neighborhood — a great addition to that neighborhood — and the neighborhood has been extremely patient as this process has gone through."

Higgins raised questions about delinquent taxes on the property at the City Council's last meeting. She said the property is current on its city taxes, otherwise the project couldn't move forward, but there's still roughly $98,000 in other taxes owed for 2012.

"I do know that for their 2012 taxes, in March when they became delinquent, the county paid the city for them so they were clear with us," she said.

County Treasurer Catherine McClary confirmed PSAA LLC owes roughly $98,000 in 2012 taxes, plus about $72,000 for the summer 2013 bill that just went out.

Voght said more than 3,500 tons of contaminated soils were removed from the property as part of the demolition and related cleanup work being done. That's all being replaced with clean soils.

He said officials working on the project still are assessing the need for a vapor barrier for future redevelopment of the site, but that would be done as part of construction.

A significant amount of grading work also is expected to be done so there's more of a gradual decline in elevation from the sidewalk into the site — instead of the steep slope there is now.

As for the financing for Packard Square, Voght said he can't speak to that directly, but he knows funding for projects like that can be very complicated.

"And usually the financing doesn't get fully committed until very close to when vertical construction begins," he said. "It's not like months in advance of the project they can say, 'Oh, we've got our money.' That's just not how financing works."

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.



Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

....."and the walls come a-tumblin' down!"


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 2:12 a.m.

I remember when they build this mall.My Grandmother retired from that Kroger.Before opening Georgetown Kroger was further down Packard where the old Hollywood video was.Near Fraser's Pub.Things change but photo's are a great way to preserve the past.Thanks for the memories.....


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 12:22 a.m.

A surety bond should be required of Craig Schubiner to guarantee that financing, when obtained, will be sufficient to complete the Packard Mall development. A surety bond was not in place when funding ran out for Mr. Schubiner's massive Bloomfield Park project. Construction stopped in November 2008 on the half completed buildings as the project entered bankruptcy and no further progress on the development has proceeded since then. The pictures of the present-day Bloomfield Park structures, at the following link, could be from a war zone. You may be interested in the time line for the Bloomfield Park debacle: Finally, there was a time when developers were responsible for site preparation but in Ann Arbor the city and county prefer that tax payer dollars be used instead.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

Ha! Ha! Ha! You have that one right, Brad.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

@Veracity - maybe a dairy farmer? He does know how to milk the system.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

timjbd - I do not believe that Craig Schubiner is into farming.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

In this case, I'd say taxpayer dollars were well spent tearing this complex down. I have not heard anyone say they were not happy it's gone and now, I'd rather see that it's fully funded BEFORE any construction begins. If the funding never comes through, leave it lay until someone comes along with the financing. Or maybe a less ambitious project? Maybe someone will put down topsoil and start farming it until then?


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 1:44 a.m.

ERRATA:"Packard Mall" should be "Packard Square."

Esch Park

Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 11:18 p.m.

Curious, what was there on this site before Georgetown Mall was constructed?


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

This was on the edge of town before the Mall was built. The area out there was once known as East Ann Arbor and outside the city limits (bounded approximately by US-23, Packard and Washtenaw). Of course Pittsfield Village was a story all in itself. Just past Georgetown Mall is Stone School Road, once you hit that it was farmland (my HS girlfriend's family was out that way). Once you went past AAHS (on Main) it too was pretty much countryside, great farms, a lot of horses.


Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 10:36 p.m.

There are at least four cars in that 70's photo I'd like to have!

Dirty Mouth

Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 8:49 p.m.

Glad to see the eyesore gone.

Jack Eaton

Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

It will be great to see this demolition finally completed. I hope the developer is able to arrange the financing needed to build his project. His prior experience in Oakland County does not provide reason for confidence: I would also note that it took the developer six months to come up with $250,000 he needed to qualify for the $1 million state demolition grant. I wonder whether the few million dollars in Brownfield TIF subsidies will be enough to help the developer to put together the $48 million for this project. As previously noted by this publication just before the project was approved: "If the city approves the brownfield plan, more than $3 million in taxes would be diverted from schools to help finance the project. Another $1.24 million would be diverted from the city's general fund and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, nearly $16,000 from city parks, nearly $20,000 from city street repairs, more than $57,000 from Washtenaw County government, more than $15,400 from libraries, and lesser amounts from various entities."

Jack Eaton

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

@G2A2K - Solution to what? Did you consider having an active neighborhood shopping center to have been a problem? That was what this developer bought in the early 2000s. He could have either fixed up the existing buildings or replaced them with something like the new Kroger on South Maple. Or by referring to a problem, do you mean the mess that resulted from the Council's change in zoning for this property to allow higher density, multi-use development (when it changed the Area Height and Placement regulations)? That change in zoning encouraged the developer to propose a $48 million dollar project that he has struggled to find financing for. Or is the problem you are referring to the Council's repeated concessions to the developer during periods when he was behind on his property taxes and breaking his promises regarding the demolition? I believe the problem here was the same as the problems for the lowertown Kroger site and the site at Washtenaw and Platt. The City is encouraging (through zoning and subsidies) development for which there is little market demand. The lowertown site is a fenced area of "wildflowers" and the Washtenaw site will be developed as a modified strip mall, but only after the land went through foreclosure to make the project affordable for our market. I am unaware of any federal government involvement in these projects. The state became involved as a result of the developer's failure to secure financing to accomplish the demolition and clean up in advance of receiving him Brownfield TIF. I recommend that our local leaders and planners resist their desire to meddle in the market. Encouraging dense development in this neighborhood and offering millions in subsidies to a developer with a spotty record is what caused whatever problem that now requires a solution.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 3:19 a.m.

A good solution would be to stop subsidizing development. Either a company is financially able to do the deal or they are not. This diversion of taxes needs to stop.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 2:31 a.m.

So, Jack what exactly would have been your solution? Assuming you actually have a workable plan that takes into account the complicated nature of the project that has to work across multiple levels of government (Federal, State, and local) and laws, what is it? You are quick to throw barbs, but rarely provide viable solutions.

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

If anyone happens to have old photos of the mall they'd like to share send them our way:


Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

Kyle - That nice photo from "sometime in the 70's" must be the last half -- the 777 building in the background was built in 1975 according to arborwiki:

Ann English

Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 9:52 p.m.

Earlier photos of this demolition suggest to me that a building across Washtenaw Avenue from a Citgo station, at Cornell Street, is going to be demolished, too, before another Ahmo's goes there; I had thought earlier that they would use the building already there. Bare cement with missing doors and windows means demolition in progress. I have not been going past the former Georgetown Mall for weeks.


Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 8:16 p.m.

i will miss this plaza the way it used to be, had a lot of fond memories as a kid growing up in the king george neighborhood, walking here often


Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 8:06 p.m.

Did Ms. Higgins take the word of the developer that financing will be found on behalf of the city taxpayers? I don't care for that, I would prefer to get it in writing. Did we take the word of the Lowertown developer, also? If this ever gets built, it will be interesting to see how the size fits the neighborhood; that will give us a visual for reviewing the planning - I think 4 stories is going to loom pretty large on that site. As for hoping the project turns out well, I do, too, but that is what engineering and construction drawings are for.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

We don't "need" apartments in the area, that's just how the developer can maximize his profits under the current zoning. I'd far prefer another "mixed use" setup like the previous one - a mix of office and retail. We actually have a fairly diverse and dense neighborhood already. And the developer has a years-long history of being a bad neighbor.

J. A. Pieper

Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 10:54 p.m.

I live close too, and I continue to wonder why we need more apartments in our area, some maybe, but not to the extent of this project. I am also worried about the "leveling" - what is the back side going to look like next to the neighborhood?


Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 8:18 p.m.

I live pretty close by and the scale is definitely a concern. A big building and another 400 people dropped into a mature neighborhood. Let's hope we're not going to be the recipient of the next zoning FAIL.

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

Just for the record Higgins and Teall had zero to do with making this happen. Over the last ten years this project has been a fiasco due in part to their failed leadership on Council. Some of our local politicians love to rewrite history because no one challenges them...


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

Proof please, aside from your obvious dislike. Have you asked what has been going on behind the scenes, with the county, with the developer, with the state DEQ? I am betting that is a resounding no.

J. A. Pieper

Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

We all need to work at voting these two people out. They have done nothing for our ward, remember to vote August 6! For the other guy! He has a post later on this topic!


Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

They've both been on council too long. Ward 4 voters can remedy that on Aug 6.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Jun 25, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

"I do know that for their 2012 taxes, in March when they became delinquent, the county paid the city for them so they were clear with us," she said." I do hope that CM Higgins knows that the county expects that money back. It was not a grant.