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Posted on Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Arbor Hills developers reveal tenant lineup for project on Washtenaw Avenue

By Lizzy Alfs


A shopper browses the shelves at a Paper Source location in Philadelphia.

Photo By: Terry Robinson

  • Related story: Arbor Hills shopping center poised to alter Ann Arbor's retail landscape
  • Running Fit President Randy Step said he wasn’t actively looking to open a new store in Ann Arbor — at least, not until he saw the plans for Arbor Hills.

    “We did (this) more because the synergy of who was going to be in the (Arbor Hills) center and what was going on,” Step said.

    Step is among 15 tenants that have signed leases to open in the 90,700-square-foot shopping center, located on Washtenaw Avenue between Huron Parkway and Platt Road. He said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to open a store in the same center as athletic apparel retailer lululemon athletica and outdoor products retailer The North Face.

    Arbor Hills development on Washtenaw Avenue

    The developers have 15 signed leases, including national, regional and local tenants

    “I love to be next to like-minded businesses,” he said.

    From local players, like Running Fit and Cafe Zola, to national chains, like Anthropologie and Sur La Table, Arbor Hills has a unique mix of businesses, said Max Reiswerg of Chicago’s North Shore Properties Group. Reiswerg is partnering with Tom Stegeman of Ann Arbor’s Campus Realty to build the project.


    An employee stocks the display shelves at a Sur La Table location in suburban Houston.

    Photo courtesy of CITYCENTRE Houston

    “We thought Ann Arbor needed something unique,” Reiswerg said.

    The developers have 15 signed leases and they are in various stages of negotiations with other tenants. There is room for about 23 businesses, depending on how space is divided.

    Many of the tenants are new to Ann Arbor, and some of the companies have been circling the region’s real estate market for years. About half the tenants, including The North Face and Arhaus Furniture, have a presence in the Somerset Collection — an upscale mall in Troy.

    “What (many of these tenants) do is they’ll go to really special malls,” said Reiswerg, referring to Somerset. “But these are (tenants) who prefer to be on the street. To entice these tenants, we had to look a certain way.”

    He added: “I think a lot of it has to do with the trust of the developer…plus, they do extensive research. They’re coming into this market knowing pretty much the type of volumes they can do.”

    Some of the other tenants in Arbor Hills:

    Madewell: Founded in 1937 as a denim label, J.Crew reintroduced the Madewell brand in 2006. The stores sell casual women’s clothing and accessories.

    Paper Source: This specialty paper retailer operates more than 50 stores in 19 states, including a store in downtown Birmingham.

    Bluemercury: This luxury beauty products and spa retailer is opening its first Michigan store in the Arbor Hills center.

    Glassbox Coffee: Jason Friend opened Glassbox Coffee at 1335 S. University Ave. near the University of Michigan campus last month. He plans to open a new location in Arbor Hills. Glassbox sells specialty coffee, espresso and artisan juices.

    LILL Studio: LILL Studio was founded in 1999 as a customizable handbag company. Customers can design handbags and accessories online, at a home party program, or in the company’s boutiques in Chicago and Boston.

    Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



    Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

    It seems to me that all these stores are nothing new to the Ann Arbor retail landscape. Ann Arbor has a very high median income - why not bring more upscale stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, or smaller luxury brand stores? Again, the big money will be spent outside of Ann Arbor which is a shame.


    Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.

    Yay more shops for the 1%...*deadpan*

    Meg Geddes

    Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:13 p.m.

    Unh hunh. So far not one thing that interests me. So I don't have to even go there. YAY FOR ME.

    free form

    Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 1:19 a.m.

    And yay for those of us who will go there!


    Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

    Great to know that we will have these nice stores in Ann Arbor now. Most of these stores were my go to destination when in Chicago, Boston, NYC or LA. Nice also not to have to drive to Somerset mall to go to some of them. It was about time - Ann Arbor deserves it!


    Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

    Non plussed.


    Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.

    Ahem, nonplussed is one word.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 9:48 p.m.

    So excited for lululemon! But when are we going to get The Container Store?


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 9:18 p.m.

    I keep seeing the comments about parking and Whole Foods.Wouldn't Whole Foods have a problem with people parking in their lot and heading over to Arbor Hills? Just asking


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

    Are the overhead bridges for peds way too expensive? This could give some flexibility on parking; in other words, people could park on whichever side of Washtenaw was less crowded. And the demographics match for Whole Foods and these upscale stores. Each side could gain more business when people walked across the bridge. Also, there are 2 parking lots for the Rec Center. The second is south on Platt, adjacent to the old Juvenile Court, which also has a big parking lot.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

    Arbor Hills could be a huge success. In that case, a new roundabout as well as pedestrian cross walks will needed. Folks on foot will need to cross busy Washtenaw Ave from Whole Foods.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 8:44 p.m.

    Even if a roundabout could be constructed at Platt and Washtenaw east-west traffic during rush hours will make exiting the Arbor Hills Crossings mall difficult.

    Elijah Shalis

    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

    boooo no pf chang


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

    While I'm glad to see this development and investment in Ann Arbor, I can't help but wishing these stores would have located downtown, instead.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

    When I visited a client in Detroit, in the Michigan and Martin area, it struck me how walkable the city was. (There is the crime though!) My teen client could just walk a couple blocks to groceries, school, churches, doctors, dentists, everything. At one time there was a high school every 2-3 miles, blanketing the city. No burning fossil fuels. I really like the idea of neighborhoods where business and homes are integrated. Gets people moving and saves money on gas.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 8:40 p.m.

    Where would you want these places to be located downtown? Besides the free parking provided at Arbor Hills Crossing those businesses signing leases may have received special inducements to attract them, like reduced leasing rates for a period of time or free decorating.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

    The city planners will think some something, because of all those new high rises that will be going up.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

    Why? Because of the great parking?


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 4:26 p.m.

    Are people going to be allowed to turn left across Washtenaw when leaving that mall? That's going to be an interesting traffic situation.


    Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 1:33 a.m.

    oh no, please not a roundabout.

    Kyle Mattson

    Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

    Instead, or maybe in addition to the new light at Platt an Washtenaw I would also be interested to see the Platt and Huron Pkwy intersection turned into a roundabout. No matter what the solution is, I would suspect drivers will need to continue to bring an extra supply of patience when navigating Washtenaw Ave.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 8:36 p.m.

    For those customers who exit onto Platt, the new traffic light at Platt and Washtenaw will likely allow left turns. If you exit directly onto Washtenaw Avenue you must travel East.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

    It could be an ugly mess if nothing is changed or remains as is.

    Christine Moellering

    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 3:24 p.m.

    What I am curious about is where everyone is going to park? Are they putting in a parking structure? Did they develop a new system of air parking because there are already way too few spaces across the street at Whole Foods?

    Kyle Mattson

    Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 6:13 p.m.

    Despite the 300-some spots that Lizzy mentioned I would suspect that during peak shopping times/seasons (ie weekends & holidays) there will be a fight for parking. I believe this development at one point included a proposal for a small parking structure, but was removed. Not having many restaurants in the center may be good as it should keep the in/out flow of shoppers steady. With that said I would not be at all surprised to see one of the neighboring properties to the south or east sold for the creation of additional parking in the future.

    Lizzy Alfs

    Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

    There are about 310 - possibly slightly more than that - parking spaces provided on the site.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

    On site parking is included in the plans and will likely be more than sufficient for the occasional shopper who visits the mall.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

    Seems this part of the story will need updating. This development will require a lot of parking. I hope there is a solution.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 5:44 p.m.

    Especially when it becomes the overflow parking for the Rec Center across Platt, too.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

    MEH! S.S.D.D. nothing to see here..........move along.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

    Love this! It's about time we get something like this. There's way way more money in Ann Arbor than people realize and people here are almost ashamed of it. The locally-owned shops aren't giving us a good alternative to The Gap and other mall stores. Everywhere I look there are people - students and townies alike - wearing Lululemon clothes. Why not have people get it in an actual shop here than go to another city or off the internet?


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

    Is the Arhaus store at arborland going to close then?

    Lizzy Alfs

    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

    Yes. Here is the story:

    free form

    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

    Yes, it is moving down the road.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

    I know my wife and all of her friends are extremely excited for the Madewell and Anthropologie. Wish they could have thrown in a Zara there for us menfolk. That parking and traffic should be INTERESTING...


    Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

    I agree...throwing in a Zara would have been great for menfolk AND womenfolk!


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

    With a Title One school just up the street, I'm amazed that places like Sur La Table think the demographics are right. But, with Whole Foods thriving just across the street, maybe it will work. I'm very excited to have a place to go and browse, at least!


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

    --- and buy? I believe that you describe the problem, which is, Ann Arborites may browse at the stores at first until the newness wears off but not many customers will actual buy stuff.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

    None of these niche shops appear to fill a gaping void in retail products needed by Ann Arbor citizens. Their success is not guaranteed and Arbor Hills Crossing may prove to be a failed effort. Meanwhile the city will not benefit financially since TIF payment will be returned to the owner for nineteen years to cover the cost of Brownfield remediation and site development. Furthermore, the traffic pattern along Washtenaw Avenue will be adversely effected by a new traffic light at Platt and Washtenaw Avenue as well as by the mall entrance. Certainly this change in traffic flow is not the intent of the original Reimage Washtenaw plan.

    Lizzy Alfs

    Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

    @Veracity: You have to remember that the niche shops might not fill a void for you as a shopper, but it does for many people. I have friends who go to Somerset or downtown Birmingham all the time to shop at Anthropologie and Lululemon.


    Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 4:25 a.m.

    There are plenty of people who think that the new light is long overdue for safety reasons. This part of Washtenaw Ave. will be a safer saner place when this traffic light is turned on.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

    DannyA- You missed my points which are that Ann Arbor does not need these stores, that the city will not make money from these stores and that traffic along Washtenaw Avenue will be worse if only because of the new traffic light. Time will prove me right or wrong. thefoodandwinehedonist- As I said above, time will prove me right or wrong and you also.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

    It is absolutely filling the gaping hole of lack of upscalish national retailers in town. And by upscalish i mean between Target/Gap/mall stuff and Tiffany/Prada/Hermes.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

    you say it's not the retail needed but offer NO suggestion of what is needed. why doent you open a store an leave the hard things to other people. it's easy to talk.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

    And here we thought that the secrets of artisanal juice-squeezing disappeared with Atlantis.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

    Artisan is a noun, meaning "craftsman", or maker. Artisanal is the newly-minted adjective used by marketing people to describe something as "crafted", rather than, presumably, mass produced. So, I guess when you combine different juices and "juice products", you are crafting an "artisanal" juice? Like at your lemonade stand, you know?

    Rod Johnson

    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.

    Not *that* newly-minted. There are NYT citations going back to 1940, and 1980 for food.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

    At my lemonade stand the "artisanal juice" sells for 50 cents, and costs me about 5 cents to make. Any idea how much this new place will be charging for their product? I have a feeling the napkin will cost 50 cents.

    Bob W

    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

    "Glassbox sells specialty coffee, espresso and artisan juices." What exactly is a 'artisan juice??'


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

    Squeezed artisans?

    Rod Johnson

    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 6:34 p.m.

    Have you heard about this site "Google"?


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 12:14 p.m.

    And it costs three times as much as regular juice.


    Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

    Hippies make it.