Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Fleetwood NOT in immediate danger

23. September 2005 • Murph
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The rumors are flying, but investigation shows no evidence that the Fleetwood is about to close/be redeveloped.

The livejournal version of the rumor reads,

Little Birdy says the city has finally approved the developments that would turn the 300 block of South Ashley into 100 condominiums, removing the current Fleetwood Diner.
. . .
For at least the past year, the block has been for sale. For nearly that long, there has been an interested buyer, a developer from Chicago who wants to clear the block to make way for new… when he came by a few weeks ago to measure the place, I asked him if the deal was through yet, he said “not quite, but nearly”...

Today, it was confirmed that the city has supposedly agreed to his terms and the sale is going through.

I don’t care if you believe it. What I’m wondering is, what does it mean to the community, will the community be willing to take action to wrench these plans, and HOW?

After asking several members of City Planning staff and Planning Commission, here’s what I find credible information:

  • A developer (probably Freed) has been looking at the “Nalli” properties – Fleetwood, Pizza Arbor, Lucky Monkey, and may have already bought them.
  • No plans have been submitted to the city for any part of that block.
  • No plans have been approved by Planning Commission, let alone City Council.
  • The Fleetwood is within a Historic District, and we’ve seen what happens when Freed comes up against the Historic District Commission…

Conclusion: Don’t panic. Further updates as events warrant.



  1. Great investigative work, Murph!
       —David Cahill    Sep. 23 '05 - 12:53PM    #
  2. Thanks, Murph.
       —Matt Hollerbach    Sep. 23 '05 - 12:56PM    #
  3. I heard a variation of the “whole block has been bought up and will be redeveloped as condos” rumor just last night from a source who has a connection with one of the affected businesses, FWIW.
       —John Q    Sep. 23 '05 - 01:56PM    #
  4. So, I will definitely believe “has been bought up with intent to redevelop as condos”; I’m just saying that “will be redeveloped” is untrue, or, at least, uncertain. We’re at the beginning of the process and not the end.

    Though one of the folks on livejournal, who lives on that block, was saying that, as recently as yesterday, his landlord said that he had no intent to sell? So there’s a counter-story; credibility unknown.
       —Murph.    Sep. 23 '05 - 02:16PM    #
  5. And just to add to the rumor mill (all third hand convo.), the same source said that the owner of the business is already looking to relocate elsewhere, in part, because of what’s in the works. I don’t know if this particular business owns the property where the business is located – I’m thinking perhaps not.
       —John Q    Sep. 23 '05 - 04:02PM    #
  6. thanks Murph. No longer living in Ann Arbor has just become a bit easier. I’ll tell you first-hand that all of the residents of Kauai, Hawaii are greatful the Fleetwood’s staying put. Now, what’s the biz update on Liberty Street?
       —vinh!    Sep. 24 '05 - 12:42AM    #
  7. But what about Fleetwood Mac?

    “Rhiannon, will you ever win…”
       —David Boyle    Sep. 25 '05 - 09:51PM    #
  8. i had brunch there yesterday and spoke to one of the waitresses who is the sister-in law of the owner…no really, if you think about it, that’s a pretty close connection. anyway. she confirmed the rumor and said that it would be closing within two months.
       —katie    Sep. 26 '05 - 09:47PM    #
  9. Of coure, you have to remember that the Fleet has closed before. If this rumor is true, hopefully this is not the last of its many lives.
       —Juliew    Sep. 26 '05 - 10:23PM    #
  10. Just wait til you see what is going to happen to the corner of Liberty and Fifth Ave where Afternoon Delight is. The building(whole corner) just sold. I heard the tenats are really worried about the rent going up out of sight and I don’t blame them one bit for being worried. I’m sure that they(all the tenats) are starting to look for new space that is affordable.

    When I was out in Boulder Co. doing a workshop with others from the city I learned that 77% of the Pearl Street pedestrian Mall in the downtown is owned by 5 people that are in the community and working actively to make the Mall work. They have been so successful at making the local businesses work that a regular Mall on 29th street closed down. This is one of the big keys to making any downtown work is having the property owners in town and actively working to support the local independant business owners.
    Ann Arbor has to many absent landlords so it makes it very hard for small local independant businesses to make it. By the way, if any one is interested in the audio of the International Downtown Association Conference that I attended I have this on CD’s and can make this available to any one interested in listening to what I listened to for 3 1/2 days of all kinds of sessions. It took me the better part of a week to play and record them into my computer from the audio tapes and then a couple more weeks(evenings) to write my report to be turned in to the DDA. So I’m back reading the blog.

    PS. I missed Robert Gibbs talk on retail while out in Denver, any one have a copy of it on VCR tape I can borrow to see what Robert had to say? I also heard that he stopped by the Main branch of the Library and had a little visit. He told the Library people that the library is one of the anchors in the downtown. Fancy that and not even retail!!!!!
       —Bob Dascola    Oct. 3 '05 - 11:03PM    #
  11. Bob –
    Michael Yi, part of the partnership that bought Afternoon Delight, et al, has been spotted around these parts . I don’t know that he qualifies as “absentee”, and I’m optimistic we can treat him as one of the landlords interested in being part of the community rather than raiding it. (This is a prompt for him to say so himself…)
       —Murph    Oct. 4 '05 - 11:41AM    #
  12. Murph, I saw in the paper the other day about Michael Yi had bought the other corner unless I’m mistaken, that’s at Liberty and 4th up to the alley. Jeff Hauptman bought the corner at Liberty and 5th, so the whole block on that side of the street has gotten new owners. the paper said that Hauptman has been after the 5th and Liberty corner for the past 8 years. NO, these guys are local landlords not absent ones, but I’m sure that they will bring in the deep pocket tenants that will bring the building up to code. Like the corner at Liberty and State with the Potbellys, which Hauptman also owns. The days of the locally owner business is soon to come to an end with the high rent and the complexion of the old downtown will fade away and what I see left in it’s wake is the up scale trendy chains taking over. Our downtown “Life Style Center” if you will is what will be left! Density or not.

    I read the Sunday AA news story about the old inner urban train that use to bring people to Ann Arbor from Jackson, to Detroit, from the north to the south. This will come back with the government money grant for the rail link between all of these places. The High cost of Gasoline will soon change the way people get into town, but it can’t come fast enough to soot me. I still ride my bike in town most everyday. If your at the DDA Meeting tomorrow I’ll show you the pictures I took at Boulder. Mind blowing with all the bikes around.
       —Bob Dascola    Oct. 4 '05 - 09:31PM    #
  13. Bob – yep, I just came back to this thread to correct myself, and found you got here first. Afternoon Delight was bought by Hauptman (Oxford Company). Word at Downtown Area Citizen’s Advisory Committee Tuesday night is that the parking lot (between AD and Oz) came with it, and that we can expect that not to remain a parking lot for long.
       —Murph.    Oct. 6 '05 - 04:22PM    #
  14. It’s October 2006 – here’s what I’ve heard – first that the whole block was on hold by the developer..and then a few weeks later another developer came by and is currently looking at the properties. Is the historic district protected by The City of Ann Arbor?


       —Sabrina    Oct. 22 '06 - 10:11PM    #
  15. If the property in question is within a historic district, then nothing significant can happen without the approval of the Historic District Commission.


       —David Cahill    Oct. 22 '06 - 10:17PM    #
  16. Check out the map of the Main Street Historic District . Looks like the Fleetwood and the Hathaway’s Hideaway building are in the district; the houses along the rest of Ashley are not.

    As David says, any physical change to a resource in a historic district has to go before the HDC. I expect, therefore, that the Fleetwood is not going to be redeveloped away in the near future.


       —Murph.    Oct. 23 '06 - 03:04AM    #