According to the City of Ann Arbor’s publicly available tax assessment database of city properties, the building that housed Decker Drugs is owned by Alfred Duckett Jr., a partner in the California-based commercial property developer Duckett-Wilson Development.

The Ducket-Wilson Development Company is no stranger to controversy – but when they hiked up the rents on another locally owned drug store in Los Gatos California, the owner and residents bit back, filing a lawsuit and gathering 1,000 signatures for a petition. Residents sucessfully blocked the replacement of the small business with a Longs, a California drug store chain once, and when the chain eventually opened it was with a few strings attached: that they would limit services (like photo processing) so it wouldn’t compete with the center’s other, locally-owned tenants, and that they would make overdue improvements on the center’s exterior appearance. I think the ultimate outcome proves community activism can help find a balance between the tastes and needs of a community, and the clumsy manuvering of insensive chains and real estate companies. Here’s excerpts from the article about the initial blocking of the new Long’s to replace the evicted local merchant:

“It was a textbook Los Gatos Planning Commission drama–A local mom and pop business abandons its retail space amidst circumstances clouded by controversy, and the out-of-town landlord from Southern California tries to bring in a corporate chain store to fill the void, which many charge they created by pushing out the original store.

If Los Gatans get fired up about anything, it’s that. And they did last week, packing the Council Chambers to rail against a proposal for a new Longs drugstore in the space that had been occupied for years by a locally owned pharmacy.

David and Vivian Matsuo, who have owned and operated the pharmacy for the last 12 years, say they were pushed out so the landlord could bring in a corporation with deep pockets. Having taken the matter to court and lost, the Matsuos are now in the process of moving their operation to Winchester Boulevard. Neighbors, most of whom believe that the Matsuos were forced out, collected more than 1,000 signatures in opposition to the Longs application. Of the more than 60 letters that came in to commissioners, most were against the new Longs. …

Read on: “Commissioners deny use permit for a new Longs on Pollard Road”, and the later approval, with limitations: “The Rinconada neighbors now welcome Longs to local center”

Read more articles about the dispute here …

Author: Rob