After a decade of serving students and Ann Arbor locals, South U Pizza is shutting its doors for good in mid-December. Located at 1110 S. University Ave., the local eatery has been a pizza staple since opening in 2009.
South U Pizza, along with several other businesses on the block, will be replaced with new luxury student housing, known as Vic Village South.
Manager of South U Pizza Karim Ghussani explained the developer, Hughes Properties, is planning on tearing down South U Pizza along with most of the block to build the new high rise.
“The main reason is because the building is going to be torn down to put a high rise instead there,” Ghussani said. “That company, the Vic Village company … they’re going to tear down the whole block, and they’re going to build another high rise.”
Hughes Properties has already begun advertising the new development just steps from campus as luxury student housing. The same company completed construction of Vic Village North earlier this year. The apartment complex is located directly across the street from South U Pizza, and will be 12 stories tall with over 57 apartments and 261 beds.
In a previous Daily article, Sean Havera, vice president of construction at Hughes Properties, spoke about the addition of Vic Village North and soon to be Vic Village South on South University Ave.
“When you look at the area where Vic Village North is at and where Vic Village South is at, those are probably the best student housing locations anywhere in downtown,” Havera said. “So, the projects will actually complement each other.”
As a result of this new development, other businesses including Underground Printing, PNC Bank and Oasis Grill will be relocating or closing. Oasis Grill will be moving into the previous location of China Gate, another South U. eatery that closed recently.
“Because the lease is not expired yet for the Oasis, they gave him the other location there and I think the Oasis Grill is going to move on Jan. 7 over there,” Ghussani said.
Ghussani also explained South U Pizza would not be relocating after December.
“He’s not going to open any more because it says South U Pizza, it should be on the South U, and there’s no more locations on South U,” Ghussani said. “There’s a lot of customers that are really, really sad, they have customers from a long time ago.”
Many students know the restaurant as a quick and easy pizza stop. Business junior Jaylen Burch explained South U is his choice for a pre-class meal.
“Before class, if I just want a little bite to eat since this looks probably cheap and inexpensive, I’ll come grab a slice here,” Burch said.
LSA junior Laura Sanderson expressed her disappointment since her usual stop between classes would be closing down. She bemoaned the loss of South U’s many creative pizza flavors.
“I’m disappointed. I don’t know how long they’ve been here, but I’ve seen plenty of businesses in Ann Arbor open and close within a few months,” Sanderson said. “But it does make me sad, because now, where am I going to go for my mac and cheese pizza and what not?”
Sanderson also elaborated on her concern for the replacement of local restaurants with apartment complexes and its effect on student life.
“I mean, there’s the whole argument that Ann Arbor does need more housing, hopefully that more supply is supposed to drive the price of housing down, but I don’t know that’s really going to happen,” Sanderson said. “If South U is just apartment complexes, then it’s not going to be a popular place to hang out anymore.”
In the past year, many of Ann Arbor’s small local businesses have closed down, and the large number of developments like those already and soon to be on South U. may be linked to this. South U Pizza employee Felipe Lopez said he has experience with working at businesses which have closed in Ann Arbor.
“I mean, this is normal, you know? I used to work in other places, and they closed,” Lopez said.
Ghussani also shared his thoughts on the real estate developers that will build another high rise where a cohort of local businesses sits right now.
“They have money, they’re going to do whatever they’re going to do,” Ghussani said.