Ann Arbor Area Community News
A reader asks:
I was speaking with a county planner today who thought the DDA was probably in the best position (if they so desired) to work with national retailers in an effort to bring them downtown instead of Route 23. It seems that the commonly accepted notion is that the default outcome in the next couple of years is the advent of another Briarwood or a fancypants (not my) lifestyle center outside the city, and that Crate and Barrel is likely to pull the trigger first. It also seems that some cities are having success forcing boxes to conform somewhat to a downtown feel.
Well, what do we think? Ann Arbor’s Original Big Boxes (Hudsons, Jacobsons) fled downtown for Briarwood decades ago; is it possible to get large retailers back in downtown? If possible, would we prefer them downtown to the townships? Where would they go? What would they look like? What would we have to do to ensure they contribute to – rather than detract from – downtown Ann Arbor?
I’ve also heard the “commonly accepted notion” mentioned of new large malls around Ann Arbor – and I’ve heard it from developers who saw a clearly underserved market, so I don’t consider this idle speculation.
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