UM Credit Union Eyes Former News Building

Financial institution looking at several sites for office space

The University of Michigan Credit Union is real-estate shopping and is looking at the now-vacant Ann Arbor News building on the southwest corner of Huron and Division streets.

The former Ann Arbor News building

The building that formerly housed The Ann Arbor News, at the southwest corner of Huron and Division.

However, the three-story News building is only one of several properties being considered as a potential home for the credit union’s administrative offices, says Jeff Schillag, the institution’s vice president of marketing and community relations.

Not all the potential sites are downtown, Schillag says. And any acquired space would replace leased office space.

Opened in 1936, the Albert Kahn-designed News building was shuttered last July when Advance Publications closed the daily newspaper.

A two-story press remains in the 80,000-square-foot building. The property also includes on-site parking, with entrances off of both Washington and Huron, and an additional parking lot on Ann Street. The building was renovated in 2004-05.

As part of its investigation into the property, the credit union retained Atwell-Hicks to take soil samples at The News building last week, Schillag says. Boring equipment in the parking lot was visible to passers-by as the engineers did that work, and prompted The Chronicle to follow up.

Filled-in hole at Ann Arbor News parking lot

Pavement in the parking lot of the former Ann Arbor News building shows remnants of work done last week by Atwell-Hicks.

Schillag emphasized that the activity does not mean the credit union has decided to purchase the property.

Tax assessors put the 2009 value of The News building, at 340 E. Huron, at about $10 million and the lot at 336 E. Ann St. at about $600,000. The News building occupies the width of a block, with frontage on West Washington as well as Huron Street. The properties went on the market in October and are listed with Colliers International, with an asking price of $9.3 million.

In January, Swisher Commercial reported a vacancy rate of 17.6% in Ann Arbor’s office market. The rate for the downtown area was 16.5%, or 288,223 square feet.

The privately held Advance Publications Inc. bought The News – along with the Grand Rapids Press, Flint Journal and several other Michigan papers – in 1976.

Last year, the company reduced the number of publication days at the Journal and a number of the other Michigan papers. It also closed The News – in its place, the company launched a new enterprise,, which publishes online and offers print editions twice a week.

The UM Credit Union operates six branches in Ann Arbor, plus a branch on UM’s Dearborn campus. Its main downtown Ann Arbor office is next to the Ann Arbor District Library, at 333 E. William.

University of Michigan Credit Union building on East William

The University of Michigan Credit Union building on East William. The view is to the northwest. Behind the building, at the top of this photo, is the top of a crane being used on construction of the Fifth Avenue underground parking structure.


  1. April 26, 2010 at 2:06 pm | permalink

    If the Credit Union does go forward on this, it would be important for them to enlist some of our creative local developers in opening up the street level of the News building so that it is no longer a long black wall.

  2. By Bob Martel
    April 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm | permalink

    While it certainly would be nice to have the Credit Union in that location rather then yet another student eatery or apartment building, I am wondering how they will afford the overhead on such a project? There must be a lot more profit in the credit union business than meets the eye!

  3. By Anon-U-Are
    April 26, 2010 at 3:28 pm | permalink


    Looks like you scooped the a2dotcom, er. Ann Arbor News, on its own story.

    Keep it up!

  4. April 26, 2010 at 5:43 pm | permalink

    My latest flight of imagination for this marvelous building is use as a civic arts center for Ann Arbor. It is a work of art itself. It’s structure might even accommodate a couple of additional floors. The parking lot could be developed as 8-10 stories of afforadable apartments for cultural producers next to display, work, learning and performance spaces in the remodeled Ann Arbor *Cultural* News Building. Such conversions are happening all over the country. What a great mixing place between town and gown! A credit union or other banking operation will do little to enliven the block. Open the windows to creativity!

  5. By Rod Johnson
    April 26, 2010 at 6:56 pm | permalink

    I agree with Fred. It may have been a marvelous building in its day, but it’s all wrong for the current nature of the site. Between it and the phone company building (what is that called nowadays?), that block contains some of the bleakest stretches of streetscape downtown.

  6. By Tom Whitaker
    April 26, 2010 at 8:46 pm | permalink

    I agree that the modern telephone building on Huron looks like a bunker and the portion of the Ann Arbor News building at Division and Washington could use some windows (it’s where the press is located).

    But the original telephone building on Washington (behind the bunker) was designed by William Kapp of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls and is a fine example of the Beaux Arts style. It was built in 1925. Kapp also designed the Rackham School of Graduate Studies a few blocks east of there, Meadowbrook Hall in Rochester Hills, and the Music Hall in Detroit. His firm designed many well known buildings throughout the country, but perhaps are best known locally for the Guardian Building in Detroit.

    I’d love to know how much use the old telephone building (or the bunker for that matter) is actually getting these days. I recall that it (and the bunker) were once filled with switchboards and other delicate gear, but perhaps electronics and computers have since decreased the amount of space actively being used. Perhaps the gear could even be moved someplace outside of downtown? It would be great to turn that bunker into a real building for humans and restore the original building on Washington for use as apartments, offices or studios.

    Albert Kahn, probably the best known Detroit architect designed the Ann Arbor News building, built in 1936, and I think it’s still a fine looking building–especially viewed from the Huron/Division corner (the original portion that he designed). Walk down the Division street side some time and check out the bas-relief pieces. There’s an old nighttime photo from the 30′s or 40′s where the building looks to be straight out of a film noir drama. I can see a bank use on the Huron side, a retail use on the Washington side, and perhaps office use on the upper floor and west side.

    Besides many of our churches, there are precious few iconic buildings in Ann Arbor that are not owned by the University of Michigan. I hope that these two buildings will someday be respectfully rehabilitated so that they can be actively used by their owners and enjoyed by passers-by for many generations to come. They are landmarks of Ann Arbor’s business and industry, from an era when the U of M was not the only entity in town that hired world-class architects.

  7. By Rod Johnson
    April 26, 2010 at 10:02 pm | permalink

    Thanks for the thoughtful answer. I had sort of forgotten about the old telephone building. As for the bunker–tear it down, sez I. Unsalvageable. No building should turn such a blank face on what should be a signature street.

    I’m hoping that the improvements along Division will make the AA News building less oppressive–it’s that narrow space between the traffic and the wall that I dislike. This is a building that works better from a distance than close up, I think. Chacun a son gout.

  8. By Mary Morgan
    April 26, 2010 at 10:24 pm | permalink

    Several years ago I toured the AT&T building – at that time, Ameritech. It actually seemed abandoned, on some floors, with vast empty spaces where the old switching systems used to be housed. There is tight security because the phone system’s trunk lines come into the basement. Because of that, I was told, it’s unlikely the building would be opened for other uses. Quite a waste.

    And, of course, I still hold out hope that someone will create a bar called The Pressroom in the portion of the A2 News building that contains the old presses. I have great affection for those inked-up, mechanical hulks.

  9. By Tom Jones
    April 27, 2010 at 7:53 am | permalink

    Typo Schillag not Schillage, beginning of 7th sentence!

  10. April 27, 2010 at 9:09 am | permalink

    Although a building that size may look like a stretch for UMCU, it has a track record of acquiring more space than it needs and growing into it. When it built the current building, it rented the extra space to compatible organizations such as the Feminist Federal Credit Union (later absorbed into UMCU) and the Ann Arbor Cooperative Society, and gradually grew to occupy the entire building.

    But a bar? Not certain about the simpatico factor…

  11. By Tricia
    April 27, 2010 at 10:25 am | permalink

    I agree with Alice – I think it would be great if that building were an arts space. The Art Association was looking to build a project in the property across from the YMCA – I wonder if they could rework this building instead?

  12. April 27, 2010 at 10:27 am | permalink

    Tricia, could you mean 415 W. Washington? Someone correct me but I think they were hoping that the city would make the property available more or less free.