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Posted on Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Listing reveals redevelopment plans for ex-Borders building in downtown Ann Arbor

By Lizzy Alfs


A Hobbs + Black rendering reveals the redevelopment plans for the downtown Borders building. The first-level, viewed from East Liberty Street, could be divided into as many as seven retail spaces.

Photo from

The building once occupied by the flagship Borders store in downtown Ann Arbor could soon be transformed into the city’s newest restaurant and retail hub.

Real estate listings were posted online this week with Colliers International’s Ann Arbor office, marketing the two-story, 44,000-square-foot space at the corner of East Liberty and Maynard streets.

The listing says the space, vacated by Borders in September 2011, will be broken up into as many as seven retail and restaurant spaces on the first-floor, with “contemporary” office space on the second-floor. Each retail space would have its own entrance.

Colliers is marketing the building on behalf of Ron Hughes of Bingham Farms-based Hughes Properties — who acquired long-term rights to redevelop the space in May. Hughes is the developer behind the new Landmark student high-rise, formerly called 601 Forest, on South University Avenue.

Hughes has not unveiled his strategy for the building — and was not immediately available to comment — but Colliers’ marketing materials reveal an inside look at the potential plans.

The listing, which calls the building a “landmark downtown Ann Arbor redevelopment,” says the building will get all new storefronts, windows and retail facades.


A rendering of the former Borders building in downtown Ann Arbor, viewed from Maynard Street.

Photo from

The asking rental rate for the first-floor is an annual $45 per square foot. The asking rental rate for the office space on the second-floor is an annual $24 per square foot.

From the listing:

“First-floor will consist of multiple retail and restaurant spaces that can range from 2,400 square feet up to about 21,000 square feet. Flexible layouts and sizes available.”

“Second-floor will be contemporary, light-filled office space. New elevators and office entrance will lead to one of the coolest spaces downtown Ann Arbor. Office suites ranging from 4,500 square feet up to about 22,000 square feet. Second-floor will be getting new windows throughout entire space, filling it with light and views of East Liberty and Maynard.”

Colliers representatives declined to comment on the plans.

The redevelopment comes as many Ann Arbor business owners and residents have lamented the loss of Borders and its effect on the downtown area — particularly the East Liberty Street corridor.

Many nearby businesses shuttered their doors in the past year, citing a decrease in foot traffic since Borders closed.

At the same time, business owners are optimistic about the news that network security firm Barracuda Networks plans to move hundreds of employees to Maynard Street when it relocates its Ann Arbor office from Depot Street this fall.

Barracuda signed a lease for 45,000 square feet of office space, which is connected to the former Borders retail site, but technically considered a separate building. That space is located on Maynard Street partly underneath the public parking garage, and it's owned by Ann Arbor-based First Martin Corp.

Construction work is currently under way at that site to transform it into a high-tech, attractive office, according to First Martin property manager John Teeter.

That includes putting in windows along the Maynard frontage, completely redesigning the facade, building a small engineering data center, a training center, workout facilities, showers, break rooms with games, and 30 to 50 foot ceilings in some areas.

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



Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

Why would Obama not step in a save Borders. 11,000 people lost their job. I guess he cares more about the auto industry than he does about people that work in book stores. I wonder where he draws the line.


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 3:13 a.m.

would be nice to see a dept store like Dillards move in that space, city offer free parking in parking structure for that stores shoppers, they could get thier parking slip stamped, just like when jacobsens was on that block. Ann Arbor needs an anchor store downtown. too many restraunts downtown now.

Jay Thomas

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 2:50 a.m.

Perfect location for a Chick-FIL-A. Seriously, we got restaurants coming out of the woodwork! I wish a retailer would put something in there. :|


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 12:53 a.m.

Unfortunately chains are the only ones that can afford the rent and we already see all the chains at the mall plus urban outfitters on state street. this is not unique to ann arbor but around the country - chains andint,ernet shopping. fun, unique stores is what used ot make shopping enjoyable but do not expect,bthem tosucceed in this space. i think the same could be siad about restaurants too - we do not really have good eating places


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 11:59 p.m.

Finally someone has retained a great architectural firm for an AA project! Why didn't the city have the sense to hire Hobbs & Black to design the new Justice Center? ….instead we're stuck with a embarrassing metal box that will sit there unit it rusts away.


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.

Yes, the good news is that they chose a good firm rather than the hacks that have been ruining the city lately! The bad news is that we may have chains with their horrid smells and branding design.

Linda Peck

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

It is fabulous! It will be a great addition to the campus shopping experience.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 10:47 p.m.

School & shopping experience don't belong in the same sentence. Perhaps some of the 1%-ers DO need to be taken down a notch or two.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

Make sure there are great public restrooms and someone to keep them clean. Businesses put dog dishes and water out for animals whose owners allow them to urinate anywhere they want but public restrooms for humans are scarce.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

The homeless are not animals.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 7:22 p.m.

Nothing wrong with offices on the second level. However, another strip of restaurants at this location will not enhance A2's commercial districts. Another poster made a good point: With so many restaurants in the downtown area, there is little reason to stay after dinner. The charming little local retail places are all but gone. And a large anchor destination store like Borders is also gone, with nothing like it coming in its place. A2 is already vastly oversupplied with restaurants and little boutiques that come and go.


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 12:55 a.m.

agreed - there is no real draw to wandering around. i am also not,fond of,,restaurants - persnally i find them overrated and do not understand whynfolks think of a2 as a destination for the region


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

Hopefully its more stores than restaurants. It seems like after you eat downtown, there is no other reason to stay since most of the shopping left.. This is one reason Traverse sitting has such an amazing downtown.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 3:23 p.m.

Is Baracuda where the old Music School used to be? It's at least close. What a great old building that was. I kept waiting for it to simply fall down. Ah, yes, the olden days! heh-heh

Rod Johnson

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 4:18 a.m.

Huh, interesting. Where was the old Music School?

alan haber

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

i hope "go navy," and those of like mind will consider shifting attention from "them and us" to "we and all." "a comprehensive approach to dealing with the recurring presence of vagrants on Liberty Street" would include allowing a non-profit like "imagine warming centers" to lease a vacant city building as a "community place" for those between homes and those passing through (sometimes called homeless and vagrant). 721 North Main would be ideal, cost the city nothing to open the door, and be of inestimable benefit for those who need a place off the street.

Ypsi Russell

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 4:48 p.m.

Why do we have too many bums AND pot holes, but no chain gang?


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

Since you're such an expert on the local homeless, do you have any realistic suggestions on how we rid our community of the scourge of homelessness? Other than buying them a bus ticket to somewhere else or work farms, I'd love to hear whta you suggest. Then you should apply those suggestions into a comprehensive program to help them. Maybe head up an agency or committee that could end up doing something solid and positive.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 4:38 p.m.

@ Mohawk- Spot-on. It's clear that these individuals do not have to deal with the homeless on a daily and (practically) intimate basis. There isn't a homeless person in downtown Ann Arbor for whom I couldn't provide at least a one-day recurring schedule of activities, based solely on my observations of their habits. During the summer, I know where half of them sleep. I know where they go to beg for cigarette and booze money. I know where they go to relax and enjoy their hard-earned cigarettes and booze. I know this because all of these spots are within two blocks of where I live. For the people Mohawk mentioned - such as those who loiter at the alcove next to Urban Outfitters - no "community place" is going to fix their lives. They are far beyond the sort of help that assists otherwise normal individuals in getting back on their feet from some hardship. Rather, these individuals are structurally vagrant, socially aggressive, and (if some on this forum have their way - Ron Granger et al) will be with us for quite some time. If your experience with the homeless involves seeing one guy on your Saturday evening while waiting outside Iorio's or the Cupcake Factory, by all means continue to lecture us about the plight of the poor and unfortunate of the world. If, on the other hand, your experience mirrors that of Mohawk and myself (in other words, you live downtown), then you know what we're talking about here.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

You sound like someone who does not live downtown and is not constantly harassed by these people you care so much about. Just Sunday one of these people you defend put his elbow through the 7-11 window, destroyed he is sitting next to Urban Outfitters harassing people and throwing trash everywhere....cannot tolerate that behavior.

Oxford Companies

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

This is very good news - it's not hard to envision an incredibly lively neighborhood once Barracuda moves in and these retail spaces are filled. That block needs an anchor tenant, a destination retailer like Borders was. These days that would be, what, an Apple store? Combine that with possibly a large, unique restaurant on the corner, and we will be on our way back to the levels of activity we had when Borders was in town.


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 1:27 a.m.

Wow.. At least seven down pings without a comment. Does it appear Oxford Companies is a shell name and then employees of same, on direction, individually ping down? Might want to check into this


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

Just have to ask Oxford Companies - is this a group user ID? I suppose it's OK, corporations are people etc. And then, do you get to individually thumbs up the post?

Jonathan Blutarsky

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Yeah - an apple store and another "unique" restaurant will make all the difference in Ann Arbor...


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

Maybe Ann Arbor can attract the chains that have abandoned us, like KFC, Long John Silvers and Boston Market back to the city!


Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 4:35 p.m.

When the converted the Boston Market, I called them and they told me they were looking for another location in Washtenaw County for a new store, I guess that never happened!


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 1:28 a.m.

I am still hoping for a Golden Corral.

Elijah Shalis

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

Boston Market didn't abandon us. It was bought by McDonalds which then sold it and kept that location and turned it into a McDonalds.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

Yeah we don't have enough obese people in Michigan. let's bring in the fast food joints. LOL


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

I agree that those rental rates are outrageous and will only attract national chains. That's too bad. Ann Arbor, up until now, has been able to restrict most of the robotic, corporate chain shopping and feeding boxes to the paved asteroid belts that surround the town out in gas station McMansionland and Parkinglotville. Bring on the human feeding concepts!


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Should add that the land whales that like to feed at corporate chow troughs like Applebees and Olive Garden require enormous parking lots in order to maneuver their SUV armadas close enough so they don't have to actually walk anywhere. That may work to the towns advantage, ultimately, in keeping those establishments out. Or if they come anyway, it may force some of the people who feed at them to walk all the way from the parking structure, thereby getting some exercise.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

But where will kids play guitar and smoke marijuana out of creative objects?


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

Everywhere. They can literally do that anywhere. So could you.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

In the Arb...duh


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

22,000 square feet X %25 = $550k 21.000 square feed x $45 = $945k = Total building lease $1,450,000 per year. a2COM April 2011 - offices at liberty square $14.50 per square foot. Did City property s taxes really double over the last yearr? Mustr be that great Obama economic comeback.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

"drag" an innocent politician into economic blame? SShocking! You are correct in that I should have started with all of the D.C. culprits. Obama just happens to be the foremost in your nation's town clown parade.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

First blame President Obama by irrelevantly dragging his name into it, then deny that claim by changing your story and blaming both parties. Priceless.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 4:42 p.m.

I do blame both parties for their (in) actions on 1] archaic energy/climate policy 2] lax bank regulation - derivatives 3] military excess and privatization 4] zeal for globalization 5] immigration law 6[ commrade Patriot Act 7] budget policy yadayadayada... The point is investor collusion regardless of temporary loss to force a control agenda. Wall Street and Co. are hunting out safe havens for the coming market "Cliff". Real Estate is thus popular now because of, well, past Wall Street greed making it cheap. Zaragon enters, White Market closes, everyone's rent suddenly doubles including Liberty Square. Economics suggests a synthetic price manipulation over simple free market supply and demand. Lucky us, Ann Arbor is headed towards becoming a global investor run safe house for the 0.1% and their kids - locals don't matter. Not that City leaders would tolerate that.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

And your point is?

Ron Granger

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

In your zeal to blame Obama for all the world's ills, you are ignoring that the free-market sets prices. And the many reasons that some properties and spaces are better than others.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

Thanks for the political commentary.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

Stupid maths... $1,495,000 per year rent. Build it and they will come. Rent it and they will pay. The 1/10th of 1% living in a little bubble, aka AA.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 11:48 a.m.

Trader Joe's please!!!!


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 11:38 a.m.

National chains are the only ones that can afford the high rents. Look for another Tim Horton's.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 10:28 p.m.

Some national chains provide desirable services and products. And often they come with deep pockets that will keep the franchise going when independent enterprises would close their businesses and leave.

Ron Granger

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

Another? At their rate of local openings, I think we might see 5 Tim Horton's at that location.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 11:34 a.m.

Hopefully it won't be all national chains.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

Increased property and sales tax base and jobs come with national m ay be able to afford your bias have a little empathy for those who can't.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

At $45 a foot that will be all that can afford to go in there.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 11:15 a.m.

Does the plan include a comprehensive approach to dealing with the recurring presence of vagrants on Liberty Street? Because if not, all this is doing is making things nicer for them...not us.

Ypsi Russell

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

They could retain those young classical musicians who've been raising funds by performing on sidewalks to displace the vagrants -- the talented kids would get all the donations, and the bums would have to try their luck elsewhere.


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 1:26 a.m.

Those people you call vagrants are remnants of something called tent city. There is a homeless shelter down the street. Once they get their homes or whatever, we hope to see less of them. I heard Indiana has jobs. Maybe send them there?


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 10:44 p.m.

I am so sure the developer carefully considered your dilemma GoNavy. Why don't you give us a few examples of a comprehensive approach you might consider if you were tasked with remodeling a building. I'm sure social issues are taught in architecture school these days.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

Does the new owner or tenants have a responsibility to make things nicer... for you?


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

How does a rehab of a building for new tenants "make things nicer" for homeless? You're personal "research" is laughable and probably covers .00000001% of our local homeless problem.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.

Ron Granger: Ensuring that the streets of Ann Arbor remain a great place for the homeless and otherwise "not occupied" to loiter and enjoy themselves.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

Yes, many brave Americans have fought and died for your freedom to harass people walking by.

Ron Granger

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

If someone is breaking the law, call a cop. Otherwise, accept that you live in the land of liberty. Why do some people hate freedom?


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

The best disinfectant is sunlight, yo.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

I think the vagrants will be forced to move once the businesses open up, it has gotten so much worse since Borders closed...


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 10:46 a.m.

Don't forget to include the recent move-in of Menlo, too.

Carrie Rheingans

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

@Brad - the Menlo folks used to go to the People's Food Co-op when they were right next door over there, and they survived... Cosmo will survive too (yummy food, fast service - what's not to like??)! And it's SO GREAT to see these Ann Arbor-based companies expanding, thus outgrowing their spaces, but finding ways to stay in Ann Arbor.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

OK, so the business that used to go to the Cosmo Deli now goes to some other restaurant. Net gain = 0.