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Posted on Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Developers of 14-story high-rise above Pizza House solicit resident feedback at public meeting

By Lizzy Alfs


A rendering shows the proposed 14-story project that would be built next to and over the existing Pizza House restaurant on Church Street.

Rendering by J Bradley Moore & Associates

Related story: 'This project must be better' Ann Arbor residents tell East Huron high-rise developer

About a dozen Ann Arbor residents weighed in Thursday evening on a proposal to construct a 14-story high-rise above Pizza House restaurant on Church Street.

The project, proposed by Pizza House owner Dennis Tice and Minnesota-based Opus Group, calls for a 14-story, 83-unit, 181-bed building with a mix of one, two, three and four bedroom apartments. It would be built next to and over the existing Pizza House restaurant. A two-story residential structure south of the site would be demolished to make way for the project.

“There are a lot of things that I like about this project and I’m happy that it’s being built,” Ray Detter, chairman of the Downtown Citizens Advisory Council, told the developers.

But, he continued, “I thought this was presented as all one and two bedrooms…which I thought, here’s an opportunity to really get people living downtown who aren’t students.”

Project architect Brad Moore of Ann Arbor’s J Bradley Moore & Associates said the building will be marketed to University of Michigan students, and will include a range of amenities such as a rooftop plaza. He said the developers are looking into installing a full or partial green roof.

There will be a plaza next to the front entry on ground level to possibly provide outdoor seating, food carts or artisan booths during the Ann Arbor Art Fair.

The proposed building, located in the city’s D1 zoning district, has a maximum allowable height of 150 feet. Last month, the developers reached an agreement with Ann Arbor’s Downtown Development Authority to lease up to 42 parking spaces in the city’s downtown parking system to meet parking requirements offsite.

Several neighbors expressed concern during the meeting that only providing 42 parking spaces could lead to on-street congestion and could clog the city’s public lots in the area.

Another concern related to the west side of the building, which abuts student high-rise Zaragon Place. Ellen Ramsburgh, a member of Ann Arbor’s Historic District Commission, said she’d like to see the building designed from “all four sides.”

“I would think from East University and South University, the west side of this building will be visible, and you like your buildings to be pleasing and nice from all sides and all directions,” she said.

In order to install windows on the building’s west side, the developers have to get a variance from Ann Arbor’s Zoning Board of Appeals due to building code limitations related to the setback. Moore said they intend to request that variance.

The developers are now expected to formally submit site plans to the city’s planning department before going to Planning Commission and City Council for project approval.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at


Rose Garden

Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

It seems that Ann Arbor is a black hole with regard to building apartments.

Kitty O'Brien

Sat, Nov 3, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.

Not only is the building a monstrosity but the artist's rendering is incredibly misleading with the adjacent vast green lawn. Gross.

Kitty O'Brien

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

What happened to the charming college town where I grew up? That building is a monstrosity.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

"Last month, the developers reached an agreement with Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority to lease up to 42 parking spaces in the city's downtown parking system to meet parking requirements offsite." "Fool me once....can't fool me twice". Ray Detter, chairman of the Downtown Citizens Advisory Council, told the developers.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

Until the so-called progessive leaders tackle the city's overpopulation & congestion problems already obvious to many, these green tea intellectuals are no more brilliant or honest than those hit-and-run developers they pander to. Whether it is a drbble-down or rush-to-build-higher city hall approval, until there is a zero-growth sustainability plan for Ann Arbor - unlikely now- the end result is likely to be an economic implosion (can u say 'Detroit'). Like the global climate change projection, everyone is still immune as long as they can laugh at the scant evidence day-by-day and brick-by-brick.


Sat, Nov 3, 2012 : 12:10 a.m.

The math is easier than that - replace oneself with no more than one and enjoy an eternity of wealth apart from the maddening crowd. Or, for those who can't count, continue trying to beg, borrow, or steal from others only to find less and less wealth in an ever-shrinking, uncomfortable space.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 4 p.m.

You're right - as a public service, please don't reproduce until we get a handle on fitting 150,000 people into 28 square miles.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

I'm all in favor of new development, bringing residents downtown and creating jobs. These new buildings downtown are a clear sign that Ann Arbor leads the state in terms of progression. My only concern is that all these new buildings look EXACTLY THE SAME! This construction boom is a great opportunity to build on Ann Arbor's artistic character by building interesting and creative new concepts while catering to the community.

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

"Ray Detter, chairman of the Downtown Citizens Advisory Council" Who's pocket is he in...? You gotta be kidding me.

Rod Johnson

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

What's your complaint? It's not obvious from your comment.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

"…which I thought, here's an opportunity to really get people living downtown who aren't students." Is Detter kidding or does he really think this project is downtown and will attract non-students. Pizza House is in the middle of a very heavy student area of the campus and is miles from downtown. Almost all of the businesses around that area serve students. On top of that, why would a working professional want to live among the all-hours, noisy student areas? The developers know their target market for this project and it isn't working professionals.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

Agreed Wolvie. Quite honestly, 411 sterling lofts and The Varsity are much better places for "young professionals" than this location next to South U.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

"Pizza House is [...] miles from downtown." Downtown Ypsilanti, maybe. As the crow flies, Pizza House is 0.8 miles from the corner of Main and Liberty. I agree, however, that the location of this building is unlikely to ever attract anyone but students.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

1310 is D2 zoning, not D1.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 11:11 a.m.

You gotta be kidding me? If they rejected the 1310 South U project how can they even begin to support this project?

Rod Johnson

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

It's not "a technicality," it's zoning. If you're within the legal requirements, you get to build, simple.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

Oh Billy..


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

Oh good...let's justify it with a technicality then..........

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

The 1320 developers were requesting several zoning variances, which would allow them to construct a project almost 145 feet tall in the D2 zoning, which has a height limit of 60 feet. The Pizza House project is located in the D1 zoning, so by right, it can be 150 feet tall. Hope that helps.