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January 21, 1979 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-01-21
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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Page 4-Sunday, January 21, 1979-The Michigan Daily

The Michigan Daily-Sunday, Ja

When

you're

alone and
lonely you

life is
can

making you

always
BURLY, OVERCOATED executive exits
the tall City Center Building and braves
the winter air as he lopes down Main Street,
balancing a briefcase in one hand, a Goodyears
shopping bag in the other. Detouring momentarily
from the wind, he ducks into a small bakery,
confident he will be greeted by his first name, and
re-emerges with a steaming cinnamon roll in hand. A shoppin
A twenty-minute bus ride away, a Bechtel something fo
Corporation employee spends his lunch hour town nor a s
strolling through a muzak-pervaded Briarwood mall, strictly univ
perspiring under his coat. He squints briefly at the people give li
infinite watts of synthetic light radiating from the hop a bus o
line of shimmering storefronts, and meets the jaded downtownF
gaze of a salesgirl propped up against the doorway, participation
arms akimbo. The Briar
The dizzying, chromeplated expanses of shopping immediate a
malls have invaded the country, in hundreds of in the estab
cases inducing erosion of the. downtown sections of (AAT), a
the cities at whose boundaries they lie. When organization
Briarwood opened in 1973, many local merchants, coordinating
officials, and residents alike thought the downtown "Our effor
area was doomed. Yet Ann Arbor has proven that a restoring cor
happy, healthy, and prosperous downtown can exist Executive D
alongside an at least equally prosperous regional the rescue of
shopping mall of national chain stores. Downtown the steamsho
Ann Arbor has stubbornly refused to die: rather, it attitudes tov
has pulled-itself up by the bootstraps and enjoys a Liberty Stre
vitality and viability the city has not seen for years. Shop and Ri
It is a venture such as this struggle for survival that demolition in
illuminates Ann Arbor's unique status, a town extension. T
boasting the diversity and open-mindedness that District Comi
makes possible the support of both the traditional prompted th
downtown and an ultra-modern mall. the relics up

go

...Downtown!

t

By Elisa Isaacson

g area here must essentially have
r everybody. Ann Arbor is not a small
uburb; neither is it an industrial nor
ersity town. The conglomeration of
fe to the city: some habitually drive or
out to Briarwood, while the staunch
patriotism of others has spurred
in its renovation.
wood scare generated only partial
ction. A 1973 consultant study resulted
blishment of Ann Arbor Tomorrow
non-profit. contribution-funded
dedicated to encouraging and
g the downtown's renaissance.
t for the first two years involved just
nfidence in downtown," recalls AAT
irector Carol Sullivan. Sullivan cited
f three Victorian brick buildings from
ovel as the "turning point" in peoples'
ward aiding the area. The block of
et that now houses the West Side Book
ders' Hobby Shop had been slotted for
order to make way for a parking lot
'he indignant cries of the Historic
mission and many concerned citizens
e city to reconsider and eventually put
for auction, where they were quickly
d leased for commercial use.
ence, according to Sullivan inspired

purchased an
The experi

Elisa Isaacson is a Daily night editor

other merchants to consider upgrading their own
storefronts. This storefront face-lifting was made
eed'nomically feasible for most businesses by the
Facade Loan Program, administered by AAT's
financial companion, the Ann Arbor Development
Council. In 1976, AAT completed a facade study,
garnered the participation of six local banks and
savings and loan institutions, and set up a low-
interest loan fund to be used solely for the exterior
restoration of downtown buildings. By spring of
1977, according to Sullivan, the program was
flooded with "applications galore."
" EOPLE JUST got on the bandwagon and
said, 'Gee, that looks a lot better-why
didn't I think about that when the paint
started peeling six months ago,"' Sullivan explains.
Photos by
Andy Freeberg
surveying many of the newly-renovated structures
from her office windows above the Pretzel Bell on
Liberty. And the fever certainly caught on; fresh
paint and perhaps a new storefront logo brightened
many of the seedier-looking buildings. But the
primary trend was a return to the architecture of
the past, an attempt to restore the structure's
original appearance. Many of the landmark
Victorian buildings, for years corroded with dirt,
tacky paint jobs, or mere neglect, have once again
bared their beautiful brick.
"In Ann Arbor, we make the most of what we've
got," insists Sullivan. "We're not trying to copy-cat
anybody or duplicate Briarwood, and that's why
we're a success. A lot of what people treasure about
Ann Arbor is the downtown; when they say it's
different from the Detroit suburbs, they're talking
about downtown." Indeed, many people in the Ann
Arbor community-the lifelong residents in
particular-feel a special patriotism for their
downtown. There is no denying the great variety
one finds in.downtow.n shops, restaurants, and
entertainment, and most regard this diversity as
the very essence of the community.
Customers seem to agree that downtown's
selection of specialty shops is more stimulating
than Briarwood's assembly line of franchise
facsimiles. And a greater variety of stores and
services will, of course, attract a greater variety of
shoppers.
"Diversification makes the downtown," declares
Sandi Cooper, co-owner of the gourmet and
kitchenware shop Complete Cuisine: Cooper says
she feels such unusual businesses as the Tae Kwon
Do studio are vital to attracting all sorts of people.
Along with the individual specialty shops,
sometimes run by entire families, comes
personalized service. Hilda Maeder, an Ann Arbor
shopper for forty years, claims that downtown,
"you get-personal attention-the merchants know
you and treat you like you're a friend, not just a
customer."
T HAT FRIENDLY, individualized service
seems to be lacking at a great many of the
Birarwood stores, according to shoppers

and merchants alike. Discussing her recent Christ-
mas shopping spree, Briarwood Singer's employee
Phyllis Splitt declares, "I accomplished more in
two hours at Jacobson's downtown than I did in my
entire shopping here at the mall." Splitt complans
that, rather than offering the customer courteous
service, many of the Briarwood salespeople "just
stand around chatting with each other. You can't
find anyone to do anything for you. If you come from
a small town, you know it used to be a different
thing-you would go downtown where people knew
you.
But according to Imogene Hasley, assistant
manager of Briarwood's Natural Chocolate Chip
Cookie Company, the antagonism is also generated
by the mall's customers: "During Christmas you'd
expect people to have the Christmas spirit, but they
don't-they are downright hateful and they take it
out on the workers." Halsey also says the long hours
at the mall breed the customers' insolence. The
mall is open until 9:30, and the customers who
remain until closing are tired, hungry, and cranky.
Hasley claims that "my night hours are nothing but
people harassing me," although she adds that she
has many regular customers whom she finds quite
friendly.
Prices are another reason offered by customers to
shop in the Main Street district. "I think the overall
prices are lower," claims one downtown shopper.
And though merchandizing is by definition intended
to be lucrative, downtown merchants seem to enjoy
telling folks they are not in the business for the
money. Gary Wheat, a former employee of the
Briarwood Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor now working
See DOWNTOWN, Page 8.

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