Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Massive Downtown ... Paint Job?

1. March 2005 • Scott Trudeau
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Sunday’s Ann Arbor News front page proclaims Massive downtown complex planned. The story leads:

McKinley, a national real estate firm based in downtown Ann Arbor, is buying TCF Bank’s local headquarters and three nearby parcels, planning a new, massive complex that will change the northeast end of downtown Ann Arbor.

The changes in store include the eventual vacation of long time tenant TCF, the conversion of the first floor of the building (and some parking spots) to retail and/or restaurant space, the conversion of the TCF single story training center to a restaurant, new landscaping and a paint job on the building.

So, basically, they’re banking on the increased State & Liberty population (due to the new dorm, Corner House Lofts and the “we’re really hip, really” LoFT 322) to drive up first-floor rents to the recent heights of South State Street. But does a paint job, some landscaping and a change in tenants a “massive downtown complex” make?

  1. Well, the TCF monstrosity is definitely massive, and downtown, so “complex” is about all it lacks. I think that’s the current problem—it’s a monolithic bank/office building, and contributes to a general dead zone along Division especially.

    Unless they’re planning on knocking holes in the walls that face the streets, though, I don’t think it’ll work out. I can see a chance that they’ll try to make it an enclosed mall area, but I’m assuming McKinley knows better than to think that’s a good idea.

    And if they move the bank out and make pedestrian oriented retail/restaurant spaces and small office spaces, I definitely see that as “changing the northeast end of downtown”; Liberty is the most likely corridor for building a strong link between downtown and campus – William seems a totally lost cause*, and Washington only slightly better. Increasing linkages between areas is definitely something that needs to be worked on.

    *We’ll see what happens when the Y gets redeveloped, though, to really make William a viable corridor, the library needs to be razed and rebuilt in not-a-warehouse style, and the UMCU razed and rebuilt in a not-suburban-crap style, and the ground floor of the 4th/William parking structure converted into useful space, and the Palio’s parking lot converted into something – so, yeah, William needs some work.
       —Murph    Mar. 1 '05 - 01:26AM    #
  2. My issue is that the headline implies the creation of something new and huge downtown, where to me it seems an incremental change. They’re not building anything new, just changing the way existing structures are used in way that, I agree, will likely liven up Liberty & Washington. I guess “TCF Building to be Redeveloped” is a pretty boring headline… When I saw the headline, and the context (photo, maps, supporting articles) in the printer paper, I expected to read that they were adding a building, reducing parking and/or doing something a bit more dramatic with the existing structures.

    Also, part of the plan includes creating a sort of outdoor patio on the first floor of the existing TCF building, so hopefully that’ll help alleviate the fortified feeling of the building and do a better job of connecting it to the street…
       —Scott    Mar. 1 '05 - 01:35AM    #
  3. A Michigan Business Review column comments on what the TCF deal means , including a estimate of $18 million for the undisclosed purchase price and the (somewhat nauseating) name “McKinley Towne Centre”.

    The column is speculating that this will help bridge the gap between the State and Main downtown clusters, but I’m not sure there’s anything good you can do with the TCF building’s architecture. . .
       —Murph    Mar. 11 '05 - 07:49PM    #