You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

First Martin proposes 251-unit apartment project on Ann Arbor's north side

By Lizzy Alfs

An Ann Arbor real estate company wants to construct a 251-unit apartment development on a vacant property on the city’s north side.

First Martin Corporation will host a citizen participation meeting Thursday to discuss its plans for 2225 Traverwood Drive, which is just north of Plymouth Road and south of the Traverwood library branch.

According to a notice circulated to residents living within 1,000 feet of the property, First Martin is proposing 251 apartments distributed among 11 two-story buildings and three four-story buildings. The two-story buildings would have 13 units each, and the four-story buildings would have 36 units each.


A map of the proposed apartments on Traverwood Drive.

Two parking spaces would be provided per unit in either attached garages or interior parking underneath the buildings. A portion of the site would require a rezoning from office/research to multi-family.

“I think that there is obviously existing demand if you look at occupancies of apartment communities in Ann Arbor,” said First Martin’s Mike Martin. “I think if we look at the community in general with all the positive news and job employment growth, from a long-term standpoint, (this development) really makes sense.”

First Martin has owned the property since the 1990s and it owns an office building adjacent to the site. Martin said the company was waiting for the right time to build apartments.

“I just think that we’ve always seen that as a great multi-family site,” he said.

He added: “I think there has been a little bit of that switch in the world where people are more open to renting than owning.”

First Martin is still working on the preliminary plans, and Martin said details on unit size and demographics will be determined as the project moves forward. He said the apartments would not be targeted toward University of Michigan students.

The news comes on the heels of increased housing activity on the north side of Ann Arbor; Trowbridge Companies announced plans in February to build 19 homes on the unfinished Hideaway Lane site, and Ann Arbor’s McKinley Inc. purchased and renovated two apartment buildings on the north side in 2012.

First Martin — which has an extensive commercial real estate portfolio — hasn’t developed an apartment building in 28 years. First Martin owns Homestead Commons Apartments and Mill Creek Townhouses, and Farmington Hills-based Village Green manages those buildings.

Village Green could manage the new apartment development for First Martin, but First Martin would retain ownership of the property, Martin said.

“We are long-term owners and developers,” he said.

The citizen participation meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on April 18 at the Traverwood library branch where the developers will discuss the project and solicit public feedback.

View Larger Map

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



Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 1:58 a.m.

Remember when all the Lefties wanted rent control?

Jay Thomas

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 6:40 p.m.

I agree that we don't need more apartments in that area. But developers develop; that's what they do! Citizen participation is irrelevant, just as it was for other projects I recall in that area. They are always greenlighted. Don't kid yourself that you have a say in the matter.


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 12:40 a.m.

Yes, maybe he will line his pockets, but WE will have to look at it. Sorry, I'd rather not look at ANOTHER apartment building.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 11:56 p.m. yeah because record prices were paid int he area last year because there are HUGE vacancies and not needed. How about this rule, when YOU own the property, you do what you want with it, but until then it is really NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. I am sure Bill Marin has a bit more experience in making successful developments than you do


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

don't need any more apartments.Billy needs to go sailing

Kai Petainen

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

article on Benzinga talks about market in Ann Arbor "Forget The Housing Crash, This Market Has Been Booming"

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

Thanks for posting, Kai. I just aggregated! Very interesting.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

It seems weird to me that this would be viable but the Lower Town site still seems to have no interest. You would think with its proximity to the hospital, river, nature areas, etc. that THAT area (which fell through after Granholm dug the ceremonial first shovelfull) remains abandoned while apartments spring up farther away from town. Can anyone opine on why Lower Town remains abandoned? Who owns it?


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

Way too dense for the area. That area already has a large number of big apartment complexes with vacancies. Why would you build even more that will likely be overpriced and will end up renting to N campus students?


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 11:53 p.m.

Really> Name these vacancies and the occupancy rates at the complexes you are talking about. I know YOU know more about investing in the apartment building business than First Martin since YOU know the vacancy rates of buildings throughout the city. I will also point out that there has not been a major apartment complex built int he city since Lake Village which sold last year for record setting prices. But YOU know better than somebody risking MILLIONS of dollars. Yeah right


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

So sorry to hear this. Really don't think we need MORE apartment buildings.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

Not sure what you guys are talking about in regards to the pond on #8 at Leslie, this project appears to be on the other side of the road away from the golf course. You honestly can't even see that far over there unless you're at the very crest of the little hill there. I don't think this will impact the golf course at all


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

Look at the top map in the story above, not the Google map. The proposed site definitely abuts the golf course.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

According to the b&w map at the top of the story, the site backs up right against the golf course and occupies Stapp Nature area, including the pond #8. Look again.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

So is Stapp Nature Area simply land that is owned by First Martin that the public has been allowed access to all these years and it's not actually a park? Looking at the site map, I don't see where they could put this without simply clearing out the nature area. It would definitely have a negative effect on the aesthetics of that part of the golf course.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 4:46 p.m.

Stapp is west of the library. First Martin's property is south. Property boundaries can be seen here.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

What about the two ponds and wetlands there? Aren't there rules about building in such areas? Isn't there some less vulnerable spot to put more apartments?


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

Be sure and attend this meeting to hear about all the trees and other natural amenities that would be laid to waste with this construction. As far as being good for the local trades, a casual survey I did yesterday of tradesmen headed to work on the downtown apartment buildings turned up zero Ann Arbor residents. The regional trades may get a few months of work, but the city is stuck with the results forever.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

Yes, because by all means, you asking 3 workers where they live is a good indication. Try giving the UA Local 190 or any of the other trades unions a call and see how many guys they have who live here are on the bench with no jobs. Nope, trees don't count as much as people trying to earn a living.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

I believe this is a consequence of the greenbelt where it seems every undeveloped acre thats not a city owned park gets apartments or coffee shops. The proposed number of units is far too many to cram into that parcel. Where exactly is the boundary is between the Stapp Nature Area and Martin's property? I certainly hope he doesn't own all the land right up to the library as the map in the story indicates.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 11:47 p.m.

There is NO such thing as an artificially low interest rate. If you feel it is too low, do not lend your money at that rate. Those that do will continue to do so.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

The Stapp Nature Area is West of the library, not South.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

I don't think it is a direct result of the green belt conservation efforts. I would say the constant building is more likely a result of artificially low interest rates, and lax or innappropriate zoning and planning regulations. When money is cheap or free for those who can borrow, that's when the rich get richer, at our expense.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 12:03 p.m.

First Martin? The rubber stamp has already been inked.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 11:21 p.m.

Have they lined up their tax abatements yet?


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

Would that entire natural area (woods/pond/trails) be removed? How close would this come to #7 & #8 on Leslie Park G.C.? While I'm sure the the views of the newly filled in (restored?) orchard and golf course would be lovely for future residents, this would be sad news for those who love the house/condo-less Leslie Park G.C. I guess deep down I was hoping the city owned that land (it would have been an excellent, in-city, green belt purchase).


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

If you look at the Washtenaw County GIS system on the county web site, you can see the outline of the parcel. The Stapp Nature Reserve is adjoining this parcel, as is the Leslie Nature Area. Stapp is to the North of the parcel and Leslie is to the West. The parcel is actually shown as 2 parcels in the county GIS system number 2015 - which includes a building that is cut out from the diagram shown in the article and an unnumbered parcel that is the bulk of the property. In that unnumbered parcel is a large pond. I hope this helps.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 11:45 a.m.

Love it can't wait for more traffic just what you need in the area.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 11:01 a.m.

Two parking spaces per unit? Yep, First Martin does it right!

John Q

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 3:24 a.m.

Waste of parking spaces.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 10:36 a.m.

Good news for the local trades, if this and other projects are approved.