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 Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

King Engineering's departure creates rare redevelopment opportunity on South State Street near Briarwood Mall

By Nathan Bomey


The former King Engineering Corp. building is listed for sale after the longtime Ann Arbor company was acquired and moved out of Michigan.

Melanie Maxwell |

(Related story: 75-year-old Ann Arbor manufacturer moved to West Virginia after acquisition)

A high-profile but aging Ann Arbor manufacturing complex previously occupied by King Engineering Corp. is empty for the first time in more than half a century, creating a major redevelopment opportunity near Briarwood Mall.

The property at 3201 South State Street — a few hundred feet north of I-94 — served as the headquarters of King Engineering's electronics and sensor manufacturing business until the company was acquired in December by Newell, West Virginia-based Marsh Bellofram Group of Companies.

Marsh Bellofram, a unit of Columbus, Ohio-based industrial holding company Desco Corp., closed King Engineering's Ann Arbor operation as part of the deal and shifted manufacturing, sales and customer service functions to its West Virginia headquarters.

The 2.48-acre property King Engineering left behind is owned by Kilaco Trust, according to Washtenaw County records.

The property includes two buildings with 23,322 square feet, but those facilities are "of no value to the redevelopment of the site," according to marketing materials distributed by Ann Arbor-based brokerage Swisher Commercial, which described the land as "one of the last remaining sites available for development in the Briarwood area." It's listed for $3.5 million.

Redevelopment of the property would fit with the city's vision for the site, which is zoned for manufacturing but designated for commercial rezoning under the city's master plan.

"The current use doesn’t really fit with the rest of the district there," said Swisher Commercial broker Gretchen Driskell, who is handling the listing. "It’s a little more convenient as a redevelopment opportunity. It's an ideal location."

The back side, or east side, of the land is adjacent to a separate 1.61-acre property at 725 Victors Way that includes a building currently leasing space to a Burger King franchisee.

Swisher agent Dave Hamilton, who is handling the Victors Way listing, said the property is “way bigger” than a typical fast-food restaurant needs. That property is owned by PE-BS LLC. It's listed for $2.15 million.

If a buyer acquired both properties and wanted to link them, Hamilton said, one option would be to construct a new building for the Burger King and demolish the current structure, which also has a vacant office suite.

“If you reconfigure the site, you could gain more land area,” he said. “There’s many ways to go here and it’s just meant to be options to the buyer to have more ways to develop the property.”

Among the selling points is that about 31,800 cars drive by that spot on South State Street on a daily basis, according to DataMetrix records cited by Swisher.

Driskell said prospective tenants had expressed interest in the King Engineering property before it was even listed. She said it could serve any number of uses, including possibly a restaurant.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 9:13 a.m.

Cheesecake factory


Fri, Mar 9, 2012 : 12:22 a.m.

How about a new marijuana dispensary with a hydroponic store in half of it. I think it would do well with the state st traffic. Imagine all the other cities that would come to the ann arbor area for this new business.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 11:53 p.m.

How about a Cracker Barrel?

David Kempner

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 11:38 p.m.

Don't know anything about King Engineering or care what replaces it, though in the few seconds I had to scan the comments I saw someone say P.F. Chang's and that wouldn't be a bad addition. I did feel a bit nostalgic when I read the article, however, because when I first moved to Ann Arbor in the fall of 1970 and enrolled at U of M Law School, I lived in a house on Payeur Road, which is just past the railroad tracks south of the airport off of State Street. Every morning (or late at night when we used to go to the only place that was open late at night, the Brown Jug), I would drive in on a sleepy 2-lane road then (and now) called South State Street. There were just a handful of businesses in the area near I-94, a Standard gas station (later the subject of a lawsuit when the owner died and, as I recall, Standard tried to take away the station from the widow), the Briarwood Hilton (which existed before there was ever a Briarwood Mall) and King Engineering.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 11:29 p.m.

So Ann Arbor loses another high-tech manufacturing company, and everyone is Ga-Ga over the possibility of constructing a new restaurant in an area of town already saturated with food service establishments. What did I miss?


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

Isn't is a historical building? It is over 50 years old. The design is unique and could be considered part of Ann Arbor's architectural diversity. Heh, Heh, Heh...


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

That would be a perfect spot for an organic farm/ethnic peace bicycle shop.

Alan Benard

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

Ever since I moved to Ann Arbor I've been a fan of that building's sign. It has a lot of style.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

That building is old and most likely outdated in it's construction. Demolish it. That entire stretch is ripe for redevelopment and new construction.

Ron Granger

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

When is Ann Arbor going to solve the lack of a pedestrian path over I-94 on State Street? That whole corridor is extremely dangerous to pedestrians and bicyclists.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 10:28 p.m.

Bravo -- yes, absolutely needed. The denier types would be surprised how many people who would use it if it wasn't a death defying feat. It's a huge obstacle for anyone who really wants to get from the 'south' to A2 - they might as well just build a wall, a fence with barbed wire on the top - same thing. Brad - Yup, Cars are king, unfortunately, so nothing will be done thanks to your attitude. Don't ever get out of your car and see....


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

If an area is unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists, they should walk/bike someplace else.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 4:17 p.m.

I work south of town and State is my main route. I don't know what other people see when they go thru there. but I see pedestrians and cyclists there all the time. Many of them look a little wary when they try to cross State and Eisenhower.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

I drive by here all of the time and there are pedestrians and bikers along Sout State St. during the rush hour. Probably be a lot more if they could figure out a way to cross !-94 without getting run over.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

What pedestrians? Going from where to where? How much money should be spent on that?

Alan Benard

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

When will someone -- city, township, county -- also do something to create pedestrian and bike access on Ellsworth Road over both I-94 and US 23? Somehow, there's money for a brand-new pedestrian bridge on Geddes Rd. over 23...


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

How about another high-galic / high-salt / high-butter sit-down-chain-restaurant with OK food?


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

Perfect location for Mark's Carts South.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

I'm thinking a TGIBenniBicyleRobinBees would be nice. Can't have enough of those.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

P.F. Changs!


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 10:25 p.m.

Ann Arbor doesn't need an over-priced Chinese restaurant. Ate there once - never wanted to go back. The food was Ok (wasn't really impressed).


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

The other 1/2 of the property could house a clinic for treating renal failure.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

FTW! Start a Facebook page to bring PFC to A2.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

CVS or Walgreen?


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

Very good. That's what I thought too.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 12:11 p.m.

We don't need anymore of those businesses.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

Both articles are very informative but missing the crucial detail: the listing price. Is that a secret?!


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 10:30 p.m.

What do you expect; a thoughtful article with an answer to an obvious question? is 'do it yourself'... go look it up; we don't have time for that kinda stuff... Ha.

Nathan Bomey

Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

Stephen, thanks for catching that oversight! I updated the story. Meant to do that all along. The State Street property is listed for $3.5 million and the Victors Way property for $2.15 million.