History & Background

In 2008, Edward A. Shaffran, President of the Shaffran Companies, LTD. along with a few other Main Street property owners, noticed deterioration in the quality of the Main Street environment.  The perception – on a good Friday or Saturday night – was that downtown was doing pretty well.  These property owners know that perception doesn’t necessarily equal reality and, for Ann Arbor, “pretty good” just isn’t good enough.

Given the volatile nature of the economy, commercial districts have to be at the top of their game.  Great buildings and unique businesses just aren’t enough; Main Street needs to deliver the highest quality experience if it is to attract, retain, and grow a loyal base of visitors, businesses and residents.

With this thought in mind, these leaders researched communities from around the U.S. that were using economic tools designed specifically to improve and revitalize downtowns. In early 2009, they undertook a campaign to create a Business Improvement Zone on Main Street. The Main Street BIZ began operations on July 1, 2010.

Four years later, property owners from the surrounding area approached the Main Street BIZ to discuss expanding the Zone boundary. The BIZ expansion was approved in the winter of 2013 and the Main Street Area Business Improvement Zone began operations under a ten-year Zone Plan on July 1, 2014.