Ann Arbor residents can expect the face of East Liberty Street to change over the course of this year as new tenants move into the former Borders building and surrounding properties.
The original location of the bookseller was marketed for lease in July and PRIME Research was the first tenant to show interest in the property. Timo Thomann-Rompf, director of PRIME’s Ann Arbor office, said their leasing of the Borders building was confirmed quickly because of current space constraints.
“We were already a bit squeezed in our office where there is really not much room for 80 people,” Thomann-Rompf said. “We decided we needed a bigger space.”
PRIME will be leaving their current 5,000-square-feet office at 213 South Ashley Street to the second floor of the former Borders, occupying about a third of the property.
Thomann-Rompf said the new space will allow for further additions to the firm.
“We are planning on growing as a company,” Thomann-Rompf said. “We will hire, and therefore we thought it would be a good idea to find an office that would compensate for that”
Brendan Cavender, a real-estate broker with Colliers International, said PRIME was the “first but not the last” tenant to approach them about leases. However, Cavender was unable to disclose names of other tenants interested in the property.
“We ended up having multiple offers from different kinds of tech companies,” Cavender said. “However (PRIME) moved very quickly, we reached an agreement with them, and we feel that they are a great fit for the space.”
Cavender said the arrival of new IT firms surrounding the University would be mutually beneficial for the firms and the local economy.
“What we are seeing is that all these tech companies want to be close to the University,” Cavender said. “What they do is that they hire interns while the students are here, and then try to hire them full-time when they graduate.”
He sees benefit in the “young, well-paid employees who all go out to eat, they all shop, they all go out for drinks after work.”
As leasing continues, more IT firms are expected to join PRIME on the downtown street. Cavender noted that a fear of competition among the firms would not affect the IT firms’s interest in these leases.
“It’s not like they are competitors because they all do different things,” Canvender said. “I see them more as a synergy where they all help each other create this atmosphere.”
PRIME is formulating interior changes to the building in order to suit their requirements, Thomann-Rompf said. PRIME hopes that the final interior design will end up being “very clean, modern and contemporary.”
“We are currently in negotiation with the architect, the landlord, the interior designer about the layout of the office,” Thomann-Rompf said. “Nothing is yet fully decided, but it will be mostly all open space with a few walls for office space”
In addition to the arrival of new occupants of the Borders property is the departure of Pink Pump from East Liberty Street. Randy Mass, an associate broker with Swisher Commercial, said although Pink Pump’s business collapsed after Borders closed, he expected the space to be leased within the next three months.
“We’re looking for either a regular retail store or a restaurant,” Mass said. “We’ve had several showings since it came on the market a week ago.”