Redevelopment plans emerge for derelict building in downtown Ann Arbor

To say downtown Ann Arbor has evolved over the last decade would be an understatement. New housing towers have cropped up almost as quickly as brand-name chains moved into storefronts. Throughout all of this, one thing stayed the same: 111 S Main.

The four-story commercial building looks like just about any other from the outside. But on the inside there was one indicator of how time stood still in that corner of downtown Ann Arbor: a tree.

The building had been left empty for about 25 years, and the maintenance was not kept up. A tree started growing in the roof. It kept growing for years. It was a locust tree so the root structure went straight down through the roof. And it kept growing over the years, enough that the roots went through the fourth floor sub-floor and into the third floor.

"While beautiful its not structurally good for the building," says Jon Carlson.

The city caught wind of the deteriorating state of the building and took action. It wasn't long after that Carlson and some partners came in to redevelop the structure. They're gearing up to begin a full gut rehab of it next week.

"It's basically a shell of a building," Carlson says. "Everything needs to be new."

The upper floors will become office space. Carlson adds they could do residential, too, but are sticking with the idea of office space to start. The ground floor will become retail space, and Carlson hopes to turn the 2,700 square feet of the basement will also become retail space.

Carlson expects to rehab the 12,000 square feet of space over the next six months and open it to its first tenants early next year.

Source: Jon Carlson, developer of 111 S Main
Writer: Jon Zemke

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