ANN ARBOR, MI-The city, one of the best residential and commercial markets in the suffering Michigan economy, had a major blow recently when the largest private employer, drug maker Pfizer, announced it is going to shutter two million sf in two research and development plants here. The company is also closing a plant in Kalamazoo, MI; as well as two manufacturing sites in Brooklyn, NY and Omaha. More than 10,000 jobs will be cut at the company worldwide; including more than 2,100 in the Ann Arbor area.

Commercial real estate experts say the residential market will suffer the most at first, as scientists move to other Pfizer sites across the country. The area already had a glut of lab space, says Jeff Hauptman, president of locally based Oxford Commercial. “We had 26,000 sf of lab space we were trying to lease before the Pfizer closure announcement. We ended up leasing it as office and warehouse space. University of Michigan had 22,000 sf of lab space sitting vacant, they’re removing the labs and leasing it as office.”

Pfizer has 173 acres of land in the Ann Arbor area it plans to close, though the company has not divulged what it plans to do with the property. Hauptman says if the company decides to put the land up for sale, the land could be split up. “There are many local developers who would love to have their hands on that land,” Hauptman tells “It depends on what kind of pricing Pfizer will look for, and if it would make sense for the developers.”

Regardless, Hauptman says the city is down, but not out. Google is still bringing new jobs by bringing its AdWords division, and the university and hospitals keep their hold on more than 30,000 jobs. “You’re not going to see a huge change in the community,” he says.

The community has already put together a massive campaign, Pfizer Strategic Working Action Teams, to aid the planned displaced workers, and has brought together more than 100 local economic development, business, educational, non-profit and government experts to plan how to handle the closings. One of the five main strategies that the SWAT teams are working on include the immediate and efficient use of Pfizer’s vacated offices, laboratories, production capabilities and auxiliary facilities.

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