Borders Now: People and Place



Instead of nurturing intellect, the building that was once the  Borders Headquarters in Ann Arbor, MI is going to be satisfying the people’s appetites. Knights Steakhouse and Slurping Turtle are taking over the first floor of the empty building. There are three other restaurants slated to move into the building as well as retail stores and offices.

borders streetview

The Google maps view is very telling in showing the status of Borders. There is a large unmarked building on the corner of Maynard Street and East Liberty Street. The Google Street view offers a slightly better image of people interacting with the Border’s store, but this image comes from June 2011. There is a side view of the store from August 2013 but . There is no view in the Google applications of what the building is today.


Since the building was officially sold in February 2013 business, such as Knights Steakhouse and Slurping Turtle, have taken advantage of the buildings prime location in downtown Ann Arbor. This is also an excellent location because of the buildings proximity to University of Michigan. While the restaurants are overtaking the first floor, the office space available in the building is “completely filled with companies and schools focusing on data and information” (Freed).

I think the buildings new layout is very telling of its campus driven surroundings. East Liberty Street and its surrounding block is filled with coffee shops, sports grills & pubs, noodle bars, fashion boutiques, community centers, several yoga places, and a fraternity house. This downtown area of Ann Arbor is very driven by the younger clientele it receives from not only the University of Michigan but the four other universities within the city’s limits. The primary age group of Ann Arbor falls between 20 and 34 which ann arbor age breakdowncould contribute to the ever changing storefronts of East Liberty Street since Borders closed. Ten different businesses have closed on East Liberty Street in the two years since the bookstore’s closing. However, in my own opinion, many of the storefronts I could see in the Google Street View from June 2011 seemed to be small boutiques that wouldn’t be in business for long.

It must be said that this Borders, open since 1971, was a kind of cultural center for downtown Ann Arbor. I cannot help but wonder what it means that this landmark building is now host to five restaurants.  Is food replacing the book?

The legacy of the former Borders flagship store continues to be reinvented as new restaurants like Slurping Turtle sign leases to move into the downstairs retail spaces. Ben Freed/