By Paula Gardner, News Director
Downtown Ann Arbor is known throughout Michigan for sustaining vibrancy through the recession.
But at the same time, we’re seeing a number of recent retail changes in the city’s central business district. In the months after Borders closed for good, several store and restaurant closings (and a few openings) have made news.
Many are centered on or near East Liberty, and they range from startup This N That to the newer Sole Sisters to the 40-year Parthenon Restaurant.
A recent AnnArbor.com editorial cautioned in the headline, “Don’t push the panic button: Ann Arbor’s downtown is evolving, not floundering.”
The changes made me want to know what Ed Shaffran — still known in some circles as Mr. Downtown from his days on the DDA — thinks about downtown Ann Arbor, circa 2012.
I wanted his quick assessment of the district, since I’ve seen him as a very conservative investor and cautious about the country’s financial outlook – and also as a very focused downtown booster.
Here are some excerpts from a recent conversation we had about downtown.
Of all of his answers, the one about downtown not expanding caught my attention the most. I’ve found it interesting that many proposals over recent years attempted to “stretch” the traditional boundaries of downtown, but they’ve met with little success.
So far, at least, his assessment seems to be true.
We’re hearing about a lot of changes downtown right now. What’s your read on it?