Renaissance, whose address isn't on Washington, but whose parking lot is entered via Washington, is open again, with a slightly shifted focus after a fire closed it down in December: "We aren't going to sacrifice our luxury clothing. We'll still carry our fine Italian lines, but we're also adding some more moderately priced clothing--for instance Joseph Abboud," says Bill Sizer, sales associate. "And of course custom-made clothing for men and women will remain a large part of our business."
Renaissance owner Roger Pothus isn't as sunny as Lelcaj about the future of Washington--or of downtown in general. "Look, it's Ann Arbor's first urban canyon," he says, waving a hand at Washington. To the west the Ann Arbor City Apartments high-rise is under construction at Washington and First; across the street the Varsity is going up next door to Sterling 411 Lofts; and to the east rise towers of North Quad and Corner House Apartments.
Pothus isn't anti-development, but he thinks the city has allowed all these high-rise buildings without considering the careful retail balance necessary to attract downtown shoppers. "Downtown is a glorified food court with a few brave retailers," he says. "The ones who are surviving are doing it because they're very, very good. Time after time, semi-luxury big retailers have eluded downtown, and now Arbor Hills Crossing [on Washtenaw] has signed Sur la Table and Anthropologie."