Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Corner House Lofts developer buys Zanzibar building

3. February 2005 • Murph
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According to this week’s Business Direct Weekly, West Bloomfield-based developer Howard Frehsee bought 212 S. State Street, the building housing Zanzibar restaurant, this past September. (Is a six month lag really so “direct”?)

Frehsee is the developer of the Corner House Lofts building, and the BDW article sounds some ominous notes:

“I feel it’s an underutilized property,” Frehsee said of the two-story building that also includes a ceramics studio and upper-level offices.

“But I do have a tenant there that has a lease,” he said of Zanzibar. “And that affects what I can and cannot do with the property.”

“Underutilized” is quickly (though not explicitly) given a definition:

Jeff Hauptman of The Oxford Co. owns property at State, south of Liberty, and he manages the buildings adjacent to Zanzibar. That includes Starbucks Cafe, which reportedly pays among the highest leasing rates among Ann Arbor retailers outside of a regional mall.

Zanzibar, meanwhile, makes an attempt to sound unconcerned:

“Our retail mix isn’t as broad as it was five years ago,” said Roger Hewitt, owner of Zanzibar and member of the Downtown Development Authority.

The cure, he said, could be increased residential density – if that includes a mix of incomes that spans students and professionals. In the meantime, Hewitt said, “we have a long-term lease, so we’re not going anywhere.”

To sum up, the developer who brought us Buffalo Wild Wings and an apartment building of questionable aesthetics has purchased Zanzibar, and is counting down the minutes until he can hike the rents on that space and put it to “better” use.

Add in the recent closings of Kiote and Suwanee Springs around the corner, Harry’s deciding not to renew its lease, and Noodles & Co. taking over the Decker Drugs location after Decker closed in the face of increasing rents, and Hewitt would seem to have reason to be worried.



  1. (Yes, I know how to use “preview”. Doh.)
       —Murph    Feb. 3 '05 - 07:35PM    #
  2. Did anyone write anything about Dough Boys Bakery closing in ann Arbor? It was here for over 20 years. I miss them.
       —JP    Apr. 17 '05 - 12:45PM    #