The Long Game

Still laying down column inches on a big project, but wanted to pop in to acknowledge:

McGuire’s Barber Shop is closing at Maple and Liberty. Though it wasn’t always McGuire’s, it’s been a barber shop for decades and the second such longtime barber shop to close recently (previously,  our acknedgement of Rosey’s). Chela’s, which began next door, will expand its original location into the barber shop space. Chela’s just opened a new location in Dexter too, but I’ll leave that writeup to or somebody.

And the Old West Side was rocked last week by the announcement that Fingerle Lumber is closing sometime in 2019. Far from just being a lumber yard, they actually sell some hardware in there. I took a walk through it a few months back, and silently noted that if I ever needed, like, some tools during the day, I could just walk a block over and get one there.

Behold, apparently the only photo I’ve ever taken of Fingerle Lumber. (C)A2RS

From published accounts, the business is doing fine, but the Fingerle brothers are in their sixties and ready to retire. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone, considering that they put the land on the market ten years ago, and also that two new privately-owned high rises and the Munger Residences have recently appeared within a couple blocks, as well as the forthcoming Hoover & Greene Thing.

(If gauging the value ten years ago seems like playing the long game to you, they have nothing on Meijer. In the course of researching something else recently, I realized that Meijer bought the land for their Scio Township store in 1968 — man on the moon, Tigers won the World Series, Detroit riots, 1968. That’s before they even had opened the Carpenter and Ellsworth location, the first Meijer store in the area. Then, they patiently waited for the civilization line to meet the area way, finally building and opening the Scio Township store thirty years later, in 2001.)

The natural assumption is that U-M will buy it and expand campus. And that seems likely to me, though as noted above, it could just as easily be more residences. Anyone building anything there is going to have to contend with the area being a floodplain. And when they say “a floodplain,” they mean, like, remember the 2013 storm that had students literally kayaking at Hill & Division?

“A downpour in Ann Arbor caused flooding in the streets (corner of Hill and Division). The building in the background is the storage building for Elbel (formerly Wines) Field. It is the place where one can rent a kayak!” (C) U-M

This neighborhood is one of the topographically lowest points of town, the bottom of the hill that is Hill Street. Fingerle is like a block from there, and we don’t call the phenomenon “Climate Same,” so, uh, whoever buys and builds on this land is very fortunate to be in a town full of so many talented architects. Okay, we made 500 words, publish it.

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