Analysis: Ann Arbor’s commercial development “sound” and headed in the right direction

In Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 classic, “My Hometown,” the Jersey rocker sings about despair not bliss in his hometown: “Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores – Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more.”

Bruce could easily be singing about many Michigan “hometowns” in 2018 as communities far and wide try to keep with the changing times – first, big box stores like Wal-Mart and Home Depot and now different kinds of stores such amazon and E-bay have whitewashed more than a few buildings since 1984.

And while Ann Arbor does have its share of buildings “for lease” or “for sale,” the economic stability and growth of Ann Arbor and the surrounding area is “sound.”

“We continue to experience a very sound growth market here in Ann Arbor,” says Michael L. Jurgenson, president and managing broker of Swisher Commercial, one of the top commercial firms in Southeastern Michigan. “We continue to see increased demand over the past several years in a good market with plenty of activity.”

Swisher Commercial, based in Ann Arbor, has been part of many big and small commercial deals in the area during their 50 years. They know all about what Ann Arbor brings to the table when it comes to commercial development.

“Ann Arbor proper is certainly the driving force for the whole area,” Jurgenson says. “But when you talk about the surrounding areas of Saline and Dexter and Brighton and Chelsea, they are all experiencing the benefits of Ann Arbor’s strengths. They are all seeing some of the results of what’s happening in Ann Arbor.”

Jurgenson believes the Ann Arbor area has plenty working in its favor to not only attract new businesses but keep existing businesses here for the long-term.

“Obviously, the University of Michigan is a big part of the appeal,” he says. “It’s a huge advantage to have an institution of that magnitude in our community. It provides a lot of knowledge-based resources. We’ve had good government here and a positive business climate in Ann Arbor.”

Other beneficial factors include excellent infrastructure, easy access to major highways, close proximity to Detroit Metropolitan Airport and top-rated schools. And with the university, great restaurants, night life, shopping and commitment to the arts, Ann Arbor doesn’t have to worry about people not wanting to come down here no more.

And, at least today, they don’t have to worry about whitewashed windows.

For a look at Swisher’s Year End Vacancy report for 2017 and previous years, log onto

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