“A lot of changes are coming to the area, and leases aren’t necessarily being renewed,” says South University Area Association director Maggie Ladd. “Expect to see a little churn in the area while rebuilding is going on.”
Examples of that churn: Merit closed last fall–David Merritt, whose clothing store raises money for Detroit kids, emails that he’ll be opening a shop in Detroit this summer. A sign in the window announces the coming of Fred’s, owned by Savco Hospitality–aka Sava Lelcaj and Babo Market. (We were still playing phone tag with Fred at press time.) Then the Village Apothecary across the street, which had dwindled to a mere convenience store, closed over the holidays.
The larger picture has not yet emerged, says Jim Chaconas of Colliers International, who’s working with developer Ron Hughes on the 1100 block of South U, which is largely owned by the Ulrich family trust. “For now, all the leases will be short-term,” Chaconas confirms. “We’re doing a lot of investigation to decide what’s going to be there. We’ve got a lot of techno people looking for office space. There’s already a lot of student housing there. It’s a different retail scene there than State St.”
In short, he says, expect to see different buildings, but they haven’t even decided yet how big they’ll be.
Fred’s Lelcaj’s his own man
“It is a completely independent venture,” Fred Lelcaj said in a phone call. In February’s Marketplace Changes column, we wrote that his in-the-works eatery, Fred’s, would be owned by his sister Sava Lelcaj’s company.
Because he has a short-term lease and limited space, Lelcaj explained, it wasn’t feasible to build his own kitchen. A window sign announcing that Fred’s would be “powered by Savco Hospitality” celebrated his access to Savco’s south-side prep kitchen. But “aside from help, support and advice in the kitchen,” he said, “it’s going to be all Fred.”