With poll: Glen Ann developer Joseph Freed & Associates asks for 5-year site plan extension tonight
Angela Cesere | AnnArbor.com
A decade-long effort to build Glen Ann Place on the edge of the University of Michigan Medical Campus faces a defining vote on its future at tonight’s City Council meeting.
Developer Joseph Freed & Associates is asking the city to extend the project’s site plan for 5 years.
Staff is recommending a 2-year extension, based on other extensions awarded in the city as the economy turned.
But the Glen Ann request also could be denied, according to a staff memo.
The project, approved as a consent judgment in 2007 after litigation between Freed and the city, calls for 9 stories of apartments and lower level commercial space. It’s located on a half-acre of property assembled by Freed at least a decade ago on Glen, spanning the block from Catherine to Ann streets.
According to a memo from Ann Arbor Planning Manager Wendy Rampson, “Because the approval of this project was a consent judgment, it is within the City Council and HDC’s discretion to grant this approval if they would like to provide an opportunity for this development to be completed. Whether or not this extension is granted, the lawsuit between the two parties will remain settled.”
That litigation stemmed from years of battling by Freed to build the project, which was revised to go taller after initial incarnations called for office and parking space, too.
The property is in a city historic district — and it once held two historic homes — and the Historic District Commission didn't allow the homes to be demolished for the site plans to be finalized, prompting the lawsuit.
However, Freed demolished both houses after the consent judgment.
Among the considerations facing council as it votes on the extension, according to the staff memo:
â€¢ There’s a $1.008 million contribution to the city’s affordable housing trust fund if the project is built.
â€¢ The proposed project is “still appropriate” for the location due to its efficient land use and mixed uses.
â€¢ Private development on the property would “reduce the likelihood of the site being acquired by the University of Michigan.”
The site plan extension request comes as the economy has stalled development across the U.S., and many other projects have sought similar extensions in Ann Arbor and surrounding townships.
Yet of particular concern on this project is the situation facing Freed. The Illinois-based developer is battling with one of its lenders, sending some of its projects — including Ashley Terrace in Ann Arbor — into uncertainty over future ownership.
Dennis Harder, a senior vice president at Freed, said this afternoon that representatives would be at tonight’s meeting.
He would not comment on whether the Glen Ann property is for sale. It is not mentioned on the company's web site.
City Attorney Kevin McDonald said that despite an Aug. 11 letter from Harder to McDonald mentioning potential site compliance issues, the city found that wasn't the case.
Since the HDC was part of the settlement, it also would have to vote to approve an extension, officials said.