Business is flat, businesses flat: A2R.S investigates M | city

(This is a photo-heavy post. Readers on dialup or 2G, please bear with us, it’s worth it!)

This past week, the University of Michigan held an open house at M | city, their connected-vehicle testing grounds adjacent to North Campus and UMTRI (the U-M Transportation Research Institute).
Representatives of the Chamber of M | commerce led walking tours of the grounds showing the various terrains of this microcosm, including highways, train tracks, and Kerrytown-style brick roads.

There was also a tent featuring exhibits from member companies that pay for access to the grounds. It’s a 24×7 operation, since manufacturers and equipment developers need to test their vehicles in all conditions and at all times.

Unfortunately, there were no vehicles on the roads during our visit. Understandable, since crowds of pedestrians are a risky test environment, but some of my fellow visitors were disappointed that they didn’t get to actually ride in an autonomous vehicle.

If you’re reading this here, though, I know what you really want to know about. The retail space.

Although street signage identifies it as State Street and Liberty, longtime townies (and probably some of the short-time townies) will instantly recognize downtown M | city as a bizarro version of Washington Street between Fourth and Fifth.

A fractured timeline where The Arena not only paid its taxes, but it bookends the block with Arbor Brewing Company.

Between them, Amadeus offers finer dining and Literati is the sole purveyor of culture. Dare one assume its coffee bar is open? Because I don’t see any other coffee places in this town.

Upstairs, Ingenex is the final survivor of the digital wars. Also, apparently there is a school across from these two bars.

Around the corner, Zingerman’s occupies a single unit with two windows and a door. Presumably its popular mail order business is cranking along in the nondescript storefronts across the street, behind a lonely but functional iron bench. (I sat on it, it worked.)

I think the thing that delighted me the most was catching a glimpse of this neighboring building’s roof across M | city’s pretend I-75:

You can almost imagine the K I N G E N G I N E E R I N G C O R P letters on it.


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