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Posted on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Georgetown Mall demolition: Washtenaw County signs contract to move forward with work

By Ryan J. Stanton


The plans for a mixed-use project called Packard Square, replacing the Georgetown Mall once it's demolished, include a four-story building containing 230 apartment units and 23,790 square feet of retail space.

Harbor Georgetown LLC

To the chagrin of city officials and many residents, Ann Arbor's vacant and blighted Georgetown Mall still stands on Packard Road, but its days appear to be numbered.

Nathan Voght, economic development specialist for Washtenaw County, said on Wednesday afternoon the county is ready to proceed soon with demolition and environmental cleanup work being partially paid for by a $1 million state grant administered by the county.

Voght said the county has finalized a contract with the Wayne-based Environmental Quality Co. for both the demolition and soil remediation work.

"The major work will proceed once a contract between our selected contractor and the developer has been executed for non-grant related work," he said.


The Georgetown Mall property as it looked last year.

Angela J. Cesere |

Voght said there's not much standing in the way of the demolition at this point, except the fact that grant-funded and non-grant work must move forward concurrently.

The non-grant work totals about $250,000 and involves demolition of a dry-cleaning building, remediation of the worst of the contaminated soil on the site, and about half the site demolition, including parking areas, light poles, curbing and other items.

"We have to make sure our contractor is locked in for the non-grant-funded work before we give them notice to proceed on the grant work," Voght said.

The county has been working with Bloomfield Hills-based developer Craig Schubiner of Harbor Georgetown LLC to clear some of the hurdles in the way of a major redevelopment.

Schubiner won approval from the City Council in January for revisions to his plans for a roughly $48 million mixed-use development called Packard Square, which includes retail and apartments.

He was optimistic in January that the former mall building could come down by February, noting preparation work, including asbestos and universal waste removal, already had started. His goal has been to have residents and retailers moving in by summer 2014.

Schubiner said on Wednesday there's nothing standing in the way of the demolition going forward now. As for financing his development, he said he'll likely have news to announce in April.

"We are also close to executing our contract for our portion of the demo and soil remediation," Schubiner said on Wednesday. "The city has informed us that our construction drawings have been approved and building permits can be issued."

Schubiner said interior asbestos and universal waste removal is now complete and DTE Energy power lines are in the process of being relocated to get them out of the way of construction.

"Tree removal for power line relocation has been completed," he said. "Construction fencing and demo work should be visible in the next few weeks. We'll have other announcements likely in April."

Schubiner wasn't able to demonstrate project financing to the satisfaction of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality last year to unlock the $1 million state grant. He received a six-month extension in October, giving him until April to show he had the money lined up.

City officials said in January that after some lobbying at the state level, the demolition grant was unlocked without Schubiner having to show proof of financing for the project.

Voght said he doesn't know the current status of project financing, but since the DEQ removed the financing condition from the grant, that's not holding up the demolition anymore.

Schubiner has told financing for the project is coming along well, though city officials have said they're hesitant to believe anything the developer says at this point. They're frustrated it's taken years to get to a point where demolition of the blighted mall is finally in sight.

Schubiner originally won approval from the City Council in May 2011 to redevelop the 2502 Packard Road site and build a mixed-use project called Packard Square that includes a four-story building containing 230 apartment units and 23,790 square feet of retail space.

The project also is expected to include a 144-space parking garage under the apartment building, as well as 310 surface parking spaces.

Schubiner originally hoped to break ground on the project in August 2011 and have it completed by the end of 2012 or early 2013, but the target dates have been pushed back multiple times.

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.



Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 10:19 a.m.

Let see here. It was slated 2 years ago, last year and now it is slated for February. I hate to say it next week is the last week of March. This is like the ground hog who made a false prediction about an early spring. Not. Isn't it wild that we are going to give a simple ground hog the death penalty because he predicted an early spring and yet our city officials can't predict when this piece of property is going to be demolished? Interesting.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 9:01 p.m.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

This is being handled all wrong. The Governor should appoint an Emergency Demolition Manager, preferably a UM graduate who is now a partner in a giant DC law firm. The EMD should cancel all of the existing demolition contracts and give no bid contracts to companies in Lansing who share the Governor's world view. The EMD would then spend the next year or two squeezing out as much salary and law firm fees as possible from the County and State. When those sources dry up, the EMD would put the project into bankruptcy and hire the EMD's law firm to represent it in the bankruptcy. Finally, a few years from now, the Judge will order that a big sign be erected stating "We will pay money for demolition". Some enterprising construction folk will then tear the eyesore down for a fraction of the original estimate. The Governor gets to appoint an Emergency Manager, a lawyer and law firm make a ton of money, and the job eventually gets done years after it should have been. Everybody is happy!


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

Its about time. But not looking forward to having Schubiner in our town.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

Looks like a fine location for several more 14 story monstrosities.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

Step one: Get the current mess torn down, hauled away and soil remediated. Worry about the rest after that is done and that looks like it is finally on track.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

Does anyone else notice that the rendering of the proposed development makes it look like the lot is at street level instead of several feet below street level?


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 11:41 a.m.

See Veracity & Richard's Posts ! ! ! I am very happy about any progress here, but the Developer has a long and troubled past. I hope that the agencies dealing with him are keeping this on a short leash.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

I keep having visons of Schubiner as Lucy holding the football and the residents of Georgetown and nearby neighborhoods as Charlie Brown getting ready to kick it (again).


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 11:10 a.m.

Based on this developer's history here and elsewhere, the City needs to take every precaution they can legally take to ensure the project is completed, and ensure no deadlines are missed or extensions given.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 2:04 a.m.

Quotes from Ryan J. Stanton's article: "We have to make sure our contractor is locked in for the non-grant-funded work before we give them notice to proceed on the grant work," ..."City officials said in January that after some lobbying at the state level, the demolition grant was unlocked without Schubiner having to show proof of financing for the project."..."Schubiner originally hoped to break ground on the project in August 2011 and have it completed by the end of 2012 or early 2013, but the target dates have been pushed back multiple times."... and we really trust this guy to finish the project!?


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 2 a.m.

REQUIRED READING Besides the article mentioned by Richard Dokas in an earlier comment, the following article should be read as well. Now, how much confidence do you have in Craig Schubiner?


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

You learn a lot from failure. Let's hope he's learned enough to get this project through. I would much rather see this sort of development than what the DDA has planned for their "Connecting William Street" mega plans. This is a modern version of what exists in more traditional forms on Main Street and up Liberty and Washington- 3 stories with apartments above and retail at the street level. Exactly what all the vibrant neighborhoods of Chicago, such as Andersonville, Wrigleyville and Lincoln Park, have. I do not know why the town brahmins do not recognize that copying the best parts of a town (Main Street) are the way to go instead of copying the worst parts (Tower Plaza).


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 2:09 a.m.

Absolutely none!


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 1:24 a.m.

Perhaps the dozers will stop at Main & Summit after they finish!

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 1:04 a.m.

I'll believe it when I see it gone!


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 1:01 a.m.

ANOTHER strip mall? Glad to see the old Georgetown going down, but A2 is at the saturation point with all these retail malls. There is too much already and stores stand vacant in several malls around AA and Ypsi, and yet, they build more. Big stores have been vacant in Arborland for several years, as well as the strip mall on Maple with the decrepit K-Mart, and the replacements for a large Borders store at Arborland are $5 stores full of imported junk, much of it overpriced. Who benefits? The fat cat developers get rich even if half the property sits vacant in these new malls. Fill the existing malls first.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 3:47 a.m.

So now you get to decide what is junk versus not? Arborland is hardly vacant. Nordstrom's, Five Below and Ulta have moved in. The strip mall on Maple is not anywhere NEAR Georgetown. In fact., the best thing that is happening is adding retail WITH APARTMENTS. This is off campus housing for people who are not students. (the apartments across the street are not marketed to students. The idea of filling "existing malls first" is just stupidity. It is like saying do nto make more cars until the current ones are sold. Well guess what., I do not want the one on the lot, i want the one I want. So if that is the case I will take my business to somebody who will build me the car that I want..


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 12:58 a.m.

Has anyone seen a signed Developers Agreement? I was told No Dev Agreement No Permits.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 11:35 p.m.

This is awesome.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 11:09 p.m.

The economic downturn has slowed reinvestment. One hopes the developer can pull off the redevelopment. From my understanding of the plans, which is borne out by the rendering in the AAdotcom report, this seems similar to other examples of "new urbanism" mixed use which has been very successful and popular in many places. Boulder, CO in particular and other areas around Denver have a number of such installations, and they seem well received for both housing and retail activity. These places can really anchor a neighborhood.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

The mall has been "anchoring" the neighborhood - like an anchor around our necks. Luckily the county has stepped in and maybe things will start happening. The city has certainly proven to be impotent.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 1:50 a.m.

As I understand the plans, part of the development will be a strip mall and the rest will be several hundred apartments which may be marketed to students, as if we need more student housing and so far away from the campus. Look into Craig Schubiner's history of development and worry.

Jack Eaton

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 10:20 p.m.

It is sad that the "good news" is that the neighborhood will have an empty lot. Like the former Kroger at the bottom of the Broadway hill, this shopping center used to provide the neighborhood with a store within walking distance of many homes. What went wrong with our planning and zoning that we have lost these neighborhood shopping centers?


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

"Zoning" in and of itself is one major problem. If all areas were mixed use as a matter of course, there would not be the necessity to drive, drive, drive everywhere. But Detroit had to make sure people needed and wanted cars, cars, cars. One way to ensure that was to insist that housing, civic activity and commerce were keep far apart.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 2:05 a.m.

Yes, it seems as if planners do not have as much knowledge as residents who can foresee new businesses that won't make it and understand patterns of consumerism that serve the residents.

Richard Dokas

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 8:49 p.m.

The real test will come when it hits the half way point of construction. If you want to see what I am talking about look for yourself: P.S. Pray we don't end up with a similar mess!


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 1:47 a.m.

Well, if Craig Schubiner can not get necessary funding then maybe he can get another grant from the County or State (read: taxpayer money) so that a park can be created.

Lets Get Real

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 9:55 p.m.

I agree, but at least let's get the current eyesore torn down. Between now and funding approval, maybe we could grow grass? have an urban garden? I bet the neighbors would be happy to pitch in and mow and grow.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

Aww, I'm going to miss all the police activity that goes on there.....NOT!!


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

Bring in the dozers!!


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

People in Ann Arbor should be thankful that Stewart Beal doesn't own that place


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

How would Beal make it worse? Fill it with cockroaches or something??


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 1:44 a.m.

So having Craig Schubiner as owner and developer is better? Read my comment further down.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

Sad. I grew up going to that Kroger, Perry Drug, Domino's, and Georgetown Gifts. I'd love to walk through it one last time.


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

Grew up in that area. Will be a sad day as well. Sigh. To walk thru memories before it is gone away. Wow.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 2:03 a.m.

Me too. Also went to beauty salon next to Georgetown Gifts and to the seamtress. The center did address many shopping needs of the neighbors, including a postal station!


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 8:14 p.m.

I did to, can't forget the high school girlfriends who worked at dry cleaners either, or one of the first Dominos

Paula Gardner

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

The winter hasn't been kind to the property - it's definitely showing its lack of attention now. Even on a casual drive by, the boards over windows are crooked and it looks worn down.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

I'll believe it when I see it.


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

I keep feeling a sense of deja vue when I read an article like this. Agreed. I will believe it when I see it come down. Although the old Chinese restaurant is now gone. Whew.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

-a2migrl, I will take a few noisy nights if it will get the site cleared out sooner.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

There have been too many delays and extensions allowed. Like you I will believe it when I hear the machinery/equipment working on tearing it down (and hopefully not in the middle of the night!).


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

I'm glad that there seems to be a fence between the County and Developer funding. And it gets better that if nothing else the site might get cleaned up. This property might be the biggest eyesore in A2.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 12:24 a.m.

Certainly in the running, along with the off-Broadway blight (ex-Kroger mess).


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 7:13 p.m.

Whether or not something actually gets built, it is now looking like at least the old stuff will be cleared out which will be great in of itself.

Lets Get Real

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 9:57 p.m.

Can we grow grass? have an uban garden? until the funds are secured and the building is built. I bet the neighbors would pitch in to mow and grow.