You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 3:29 p.m.

Neighbors lament closing of Kroger in Georgetown Mall

By Jessica Kerman


Helen Kamoroff has been going to the Kroger store in Georgetown Mall for at least 10 years. In that decade, she’s come to know the people at the store as if they were family.

Kamoroff became so close to Ruthann Wild, one of the cashiers, that she invited Wild to her birthday party last year.

“We get so close because it’s such a small store,” Kamoroff said. “I get lost in the big one.”

Kamoroff is one of several neighbors near the Georgetown Mall who don't want to see the grocery close. Kroger announced yesterday that the store on Ann Arbor’s southeast side would close Sept. 12. (Read Paula Garder's analysis on Georgetown Mall.)

The closing of the 25,872-square-foot store will leave the entire retail complex empty.

Neighbors lament the store’s closure, but hope the mall will eventually be developed into something that would enhance the area.

“I thought they were going to put up condos with a shopping area,” said Ruth Bernard, a loyal customer of Kroger for 12 years.

Aura Ahuvia, Bernard’s daughter-in-law, said she’d like to see a “Kerrytown South” feel to the area, “with a variety of little shops and restaurants.”

She also suggested a farmer’s market.

“We have all of this space and a huge amount of parking,” she said.

Phenice Gibbons was shocked to hear the store is closing.

“I don’t want them to leave,” she said. “I live right down the street. It’s convenient for the people in the neighborhood. I love Kroger, I love the savings, and the yellow tags.”

Jessica Kerman is an intern for Photo by Melanie Maxwell of Ruth Bernard, of Ann Arbor, loads her groceries into her trunk after shopping at Kroger in the Georgetown Mall this morning.



Mon, Aug 24, 2009 : 3:37 p.m.

Cyclochemist has hit the nail on the head. Complaints about Georgetown mall should be directed (loudly) to the county treasurer. The city should have foreclosed on them years ago.


Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 1:35 p.m.

Why was the landlord given a hardship extension on the tax sale of this property? I doubt Harbor Realty ever had any honest plans for redevelopment. They were holding out for designation as urban blight, and purposely ran the property into the ground. Let's be done with them! The abandoned buildings are worse than an eyesore, they are a neighborhood menace. Quick action NOW by the city and county is required to start the reclamation process, or it will be another 10 years before anything is done. Will we wait until someone is mugged some night? Send in the bulldozers!


Tue, Aug 11, 2009 : 1:19 a.m.

I LOVED that Kroger. My parents lived in Pine Valley in 85 before they bought their first home. I was just a baby when we lived next door, but we always went back to that Kroger to pick out fall pumpkins, grocery shop, etc. I worked in the building next door for a few years in high school and college, and frequented the store. I will miss it as a landmark, and I hope it doesn't sit empty for long.


Mon, Aug 10, 2009 : 7:53 a.m.

Small, smelly, out-dated, redundant (due to far superior location on Industrial/Stadium) and long overdue. I used to live next to this Kroger, and i would STILL go to the one on Industrial instead. Georgetown mall needs to be leveled and developed. I do hope we get something charming and nice (instead of more boring condos/apartments) but just about anything would be an improvement. Heck, I'd even welcome some well done graffiti, at this point.


Sun, Aug 9, 2009 : 3:07 a.m.

Kroger, based in Cincinnati Ohio, should be applauded for keeping the Georgetown Mall store open for so many years. Since the 1990s, there have been at least two previous occasions when Kroger wanted to close the store but local residents (customers) waged campaigns and Kroger responded. The deteriorating condition of the facility became the death knell, finally. The Kroger Michigan District Manager spoke to the employees last week and told them how impressed management was by the wonderful customer loyalty which the staff had helped build over the years. Details of the employee transfer - judging from what I've heard - appear to be thoroughly covered. Employees will retain seniority rights as well as any remaining vacation time at their new locations. A system of allowing employee choice of location has been established. No layoff period is anticipated. If accurate, this indicates that Kroger is doing what they can to help its Michigan employees in the current economic recession. I've followed this story for some years. I can only comment that the owners / landlords over the years haven't done a great job with this property. Redevelopment, as a consequence, is now just a matter of conjecture, with no definite plans available except from the county clerk's office. It's too bad that this property will sit empty after September 12th - especially since no one seems to know how long it will remain in that condition. Even Pfizer's abandonment of its large site on Plymouth Road isn't as bizarre a spectacle as this. I certainly hope that this "trend" in Ann Arbor comes to an end soon.


Sun, Aug 9, 2009 : 12:21 a.m.

When Krogers moves out of Ghost-town mall the place should be torn down and turned into a park. The high school kids go and hangout in vacant buildings now, too much room for bad things to happen there. I think we need to reclaim this land and turn it into something good, a place for people to go and have fun as a community. A little re-grading could make a great sledding hill, and the place would be perfect to make the best skateboarding park in A2. I also like the farmers market suggestion, what ever happens we need to get rid of the empty buildings.


Sat, Aug 8, 2009 : 10:36 p.m.

I am so sad! I live in Georgetown and go to Kroger at least twice a week. Having a grocery store in this neighborhood is such a benefit. You get to see your neighbors, local business people, teachers, our postman, it really connected this neighborhood. Thank you everyone who works at the Georgetown Kroger, you will be missed!

Bryan Magnuson

Sat, Aug 8, 2009 : 5:03 p.m.

"The closing of the 25,872-square-foot store will leave the entire retail complex empty." You know what will happen next, anytime a building is abandoned, the vandals, I guess they are known as taggers, will spray paint every vertical surface they can get to. This is what happened when the Kroger near Broadway closed. We have that eyesore to look forward to everytime we go past on Packard. Too bad the A2 Police can't prevent this from happening, I guess it would take a neighborhood watch approach for there to be any hope of preventing this crime from happening. I hope I am wrong.


Sat, Aug 8, 2009 : 2:31 p.m.

I'm going to miss my "hole-in-the-wall" Kroger. The staff was great, I could find anything quickly (smaller IS sometimes better!) and they had the best manager's specials of any Kroger's in the area. But I can't say I'm surprised they're leaving... with the Kroger at Stadium/Industrial and the one on Carpenter the area was oversaturated, and if any of them were going to go this one was the clear choice.

David Wallner

Sat, Aug 8, 2009 : 2:20 p.m.

I have lived in the neighborhood immediately adjacent to the Georgetown Kroger for almost twenty years. We have shopped there and our son was even a bagger for a short time while he attending Pioneer High School. As an Ann Arbor Real Estate agent I see the situation from a little different perspective. The Mall at Georgetown has been falling into disrepair for years. I can remember when all the stores and most of the office building space was leased by viable businesses. The Mall owner was notorious for neglecting maintenance and making promises he was unable or unwilling to keep. The parking lot on the south and west sides looks like a battle field with broken pavement and pot holes the size of buschel baskets. Anyone who lives along King George Blvd or Page Ave knows the Mall, in it's current state, is only bringing their home values down. Who would want to live next to a crumbling icon of years gone by or the possibility that the site is redeveloped unattractively. I attended several of the community meetings when proposals for redelopment were unveiled. I heard the comments of the local residents about how much their Kroger meant to them. I also heard the Kroger spokesperson explain how economically unviable it would be to try to operate a store in the smaller space the owner/developer was willing to provide. He was promising many boutique stores with a pedrestian mall in the center and possibly some condos on the second level above the retail space. A major hurdle in the redevelopment was the issue of the evelation change from Packard to Page. I think the change is in the neighborhood of 14 feet which creates big problems for water shed and automobile access. Fast forward to today. Kroger is on the verge of leaving (although the Industrial Kroger is larger and offers a wider selection of items) and everyone is lamenting the loss of their favorite store and the friendly people who worked there. I say this, why can't the City of Ann Arbor step in and protect the neighborhood the same way they do in all the "historic neighborhoods". There are rules and regulations galore that prevent people from taking steps deemed unacceptable by the residents of these areas. Why aren't the residents of the Georgetown Mall area just as entitled to City protection? The abandonment of the Georgetown Mall by the previous businesses was inevitable. The lack of cooperation on the part of the owner is inexcusable. Why doesn't the City step in and protect the area residents the same way they do in the downtown districts? The last time I looked we are all paying the same millage. Do the tax dollars collected downtown entitle those people any more protection than the residents of Georgetown receive? How about this proposal. If the current owner cannot redevelopment the site within a reasonable period of time they should be forced to clear the site and at the very least turn it into open green space. If the owner refuses to do that the City should do it for them and attach a lien on the property for the cost of the project (sort of like the sidewalk repair initiative only on a bigger scale). The City could ultimately sieze the property for the unpaid taxes or would be repaid for their effort if a new developer wants to purchase the land. Anyway you cut it, the City should not allow the area to become blighted due to the poor management of the assest by an investor who only wanted to take money out and not put anything back. David Wallner


Sat, Aug 8, 2009 : 2:17 p.m.

They need to get Trader Joes into that space. I really like their store, they just need some more space....

Monica Milla

Sat, Aug 8, 2009 : 1:35 p.m.

Brian, yes Ruthann attended (it's in the video). I love my "hole in the wall Kroger" and will miss it!


Sat, Aug 8, 2009 : 12:14 p.m.

I was there the day that store opened in the early 70's, with my Mom who is now deceased. I always loved the staff and the service. Even though I now live far from A2,and am now the age my Mom was then, knowing that it was bound to go because of its size and the problems of the Georgetown mall; in my mind, I will miss it, and all the wonderful people who worked there.


Sat, Aug 8, 2009 : 9:58 a.m.

I hope this plot does not languish like Lower Town or the empty lot across from the Whole Foods area. However with the weak commercial development environment right now I am not holding my breath.

Michigan Reader

Sat, Aug 8, 2009 : 9:06 a.m.

I think a big problem for anyone trying to build on the site is lack of available financing. The banks won't loan because of the economy.


Sat, Aug 8, 2009 : 9:01 a.m.

Maybe it smelled 10 years ago, but I've been shopping there for six years and it's been nothing but convenient and staffed by friendly people who know their clientele. Everyone talks about the closing of "Ann Arbor institutions," meaning places like Shaman Drum and Schoolkids... well, this will be mine to miss, and on a lot more frequent basis than any of the downtown stores that have shuttered.


Sat, Aug 8, 2009 : 8:21 a.m.

I used to shop at that particular Krogers because it was in a convienient location near my house. But I stopped going there about ten years ago be ause the store smelled awful almost every time I walked in.

Ann English

Sat, Aug 8, 2009 : 7:35 a.m.

I hope the area doesn't stand empty like the Lower Town area has. A farmer's market would be great for this area, far away from other produce stores further down Packard.


Sat, Aug 8, 2009 : 4:47 a.m.

this article has been on Mlive for 3 days! Is there any other news headlines you'd like to submitt to them?

Marjorie Winkelman Lesko

Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 10:43 p.m.

I feel your pain, Georgetown neighborhood. I'm still lamenting the loss of the Kroger's on Broadway. After a short lived drugstore on the sight that huge piece of land has been empty for over a decade. Vague talk of "Lower Town" has led to nothing and more nothing. Also tons of space for parking and great location and its a blight rather than a neighborhood gathering place. Ann Arbor needs stores and destinations in all our neighborhoods. Enough with the condos and office space.

Alan Benard

Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 10:39 p.m.

@ shawn smith You are confused because Georgetown Gifts moved to the "Whole Foods" stripmall with its name intact, after being evicted from the dying Georgetown Mall. I wouldn't hope for the city developing this, as it failed miserably to build 100 affordable housing units in a lot it owns in the center of town. And continues to fail at building any affordable housing anywhere. And is about to slash its budget.

shawn smith

Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 8:20 p.m.

is georgetown the place where the whole foods is on Washtenaw? Never could figure out where georgetown was. Anyone know what streets that's on?

Brian Kerr

Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 6:14 p.m.

Did Wild actually *attend* Kamoroff's birthday party?


Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 4:40 p.m.

They'll be missed. I hope someone fixes up that mall soon, though. It's not too attractive at this point.


Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 3:54 p.m.

It's gonna be sad to see the Kroger with the most out-dated font go under.


Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 3:38 p.m.

I'm sad because this store was the most convenient for me, but I'll admit that if it were farther away then I probably would never have gone. I will miss the staff there.


Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 3:33 p.m.

The last site plan was for a "downtown-type mall" project with a street/sidewalk/benches between 2 main, mixed-use buildings (residential above retail) and a playground at the back of the lot near Page & King George Blvd. Please not another cookie-cutter bigbox.


Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 2:49 p.m.

ive got a fiver that says the property will stand 'as is' for at least 5 years..