AnnArbor.com has a story today about O’Neal Construction buying up the block of Cross Street that used to house Ted’s Campus Drugs and our local art supply store, Art Attack. Judging from the comments following the article, I’d say that people are happy to see the project in the hands of O’Neal, which was the firm responsible for Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown redevelopment many years ago. The following clip comes from the article:
…The vision, said Andrew O’Neal, is to renovate the building while retaining its historic feel, along with modernizing the upper level apartments. At the same time, it’ll create a new retail hub on that end of campus.
“This is a cool, old building,” O’Neal said. “With a little fixing up, it could go another 60 years.”
By the time construction is completed, three new retail spaces will take shape in the building at 729-735 W. Cross, with the potential for outside seating and west-side windows in the anchor position on the northwest corner of the building.
“You can’t beat this location next to EMU,” O’Neal said…
I’m pleased to see something happening with the property. That stretch of Cross Street, it seems to me, has been cursed for years. Given the proximity to EMU, it should be hopping, but it’s not. At least, I can’t remember anything doing well along that stretch since Cross Street Station collapsed over a decade ago. But there’s no reason to think that students wouldn’t cross the street if there were something worth going to. (This would have to happen in spite of the fact that the University, since the 70’s, has made a very conscious effort to grow their campus away from the City.) And, my guess is that O’Neal has an anchor tenant in mind. Given the development climate in Michigan these days, I’m almost certain they’ve got someone lined up. Either that, or they got the block for a song. If I had to guess, I’d say it was a little of both. And, if you were to push me a little harder, I’d say there’s likely a national franchise involved. Given the recent propagation of 7-Elevens in Ann Arbor, I’m thinking that we very well might be looking at one of those, but, if I had to bet, I’d say Ypsi was finally going to get its long-awaited Starbucks.
The thought would have killed me a year or so ago – remember the Quizno’s that we rallied against – but, given the state of the economy these days, I’m just glad to see someone, anyone, investing here. If you’re interested, you can read one of my earlier anti-franchise rants here. I still stand by what I said at the time, and feel as though it would be best for us in the long run to keep our individuality and remain as franchise-free as possible, but I don’t see it being worth the fight right now, when so many people are out of work. So, don’t expect me to picket if a Starbucks comes to town… unless, of course, it comes to a point where they’re threatening to drive one of our locally owned businesses, like the Ugly Mug or Cafe Ollie, out of town.
So, what would you like to see come into this new space, in the shadow of our world famous water tower? My friend Patrick wants a typewriter repair shop or a microfiche cafe, either of which I think would be incredible. My friend Pete, on the other hand, wants to make it a Hooters. I think, however, if we decide to go in that direction, it should be a locally owned Hooters knockoff. Since it’s at the base of the base of the world’s most phallic building, we could call it Balls, and all the servers could wear tight pants that accentuate their grotesquely swollen ball sacks.
Speaking of Patrick, how is it that he has a Wikipedia page and I don’t? And, while we’re at it, why did he offer me a press pass to his bedroom tomorrow night? Who does that?