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Posted on Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

Make it an extra large: Pizza House high-rise proposal grows by 59 percent

By Ben Freed


The new-look 624 Church Street will extend to the corner of Church and Willard streets. The newer addition to the project consists primarily of the glass and aluminum to the left of the brick facade.

Rendering by J Bradley Moore and Associates

Editor's note: The percent increase of the square feet in the plan has been corrected.

The development group behind the 624 Church Street project that will add a 13-story high rise above Pizza House has expanded its vision. New plans submitted to Ann Arbor's design review board indicate that the high-rise will now extend to the corner of Church and Willard streets.

According to the new designs and renderings, the 144,437-square-foot plan has 122 apartments with approximately 230 bedrooms and is 59 percent larger than the original 83,807-square-foot proposal.

The original $17 million project that included a 72-unit high-rise with at least 175 bedrooms had been approved by city council in March.

“Everyone keeps asking ‘why aren’t you under construction yet?’ and the reason is that the adjacent property owner decided that he would in fact sell his property to be included in the project,” project architect Brad Moore of J. Bradley Moore & Associates said.


A rendering of the previously approved project at 624 Church Street.

Rendering by J Bradley Moore & Associates

“The Tice family and the Opus Group had made overtures originally but just after we got the original approval he changed his mind.”

The additional property that will be included in the project is at 1117 Willard St. According to city records, James and Kathy Smiley have owned the property since 1994. The property was last assessed for $209,000 in 2012, making its approximate market value $418,000. Terms of the sale of the property are not yet available.

Moore said that as part of the redesign the interior was changed to take out higher-volume apartments and make the common areas larger and more attractive. The new look is intended to diversify the population of the new high-rise beyond University of Michigan undergraduates.

“They intend to market it more widely, not just to students,” he said.

“There were four-bedroom apartments in the previous proposal when it was just student focused, but there are none in the new design. Opus does urban residential projects in places like Minneapolis so they decided to market this project more broadly. They’re certainly going to take students but are hoping to get others to sign on as well.”

The new design includes studio apartments as well as one-, two- and three-bedroom floorplans.


The Tice family built their extension to the original Pizza House restaurant with a foundation that would support a high-rise building on top of it.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Renderings of the new high-rise show that the brick facade originally planned for the tower over the property adjacent to the existing Pizza House structure will remain, but that glass and aluminum designs will be used on either side.

“One of the criticisms we heard in our last public participation meeting was that people didn’t like the long solid look,” Moore said.

“So having that previous feedback we wanted to make sure to break it up and make it look like two separate side-by-side buildings instead of one long one. Not only are there material changes, there’s a notch that breaks up the tower as well.”

Moore hopes that the new proposal will make its way through the design review board, citizen participation meetings, planning commission and city council review by late winter or early spring 2014.

“It really just pushes the project back a year,” Moore said. “Instead of shooting for occupancy in 2014 it will be in 2015.”

Original approval for the project by city council came before the current review of the A2D2 zoning and strong statements from the mayor and city council members on the future of student high-rise developments in the downtown area.

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Get in touch with Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Mon, Aug 26, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.


A Voice of Reason

Sun, Aug 25, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

This is great. More competition for the student market is good so maybe some of the dumpy houses will be updated. Also, the E. University area could use some new development and updating. This area could be really stunning with the right planning. Students want to live here vs. near Main or State Street (near the stadium). Tax paying apartments (vs. non-tax paying dorms) are a good thing for our community .


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 10:43 p.m.

Why doesn't the city of Ann Arbor force developers to put low cost housing in the campus area where a bunch of transient drunk students live anyways, instead of forcing the low cost housing upon established neighborhoods?


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 10:38 p.m.

I remember when it was a house!

Eduard Copely

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

Maybe they could build a tower on top to anchor airships and weather balloons?


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

My condolences to the citizens and students of Ann Arbor. City planners seem to be working to block out the sun in Ann Arbor with all these "high rises". Why not place such monstrosities on the outskirts of town?


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

Shadows look best on concrete.

Eduard Copely

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

AwareofMySurrounds, that would defeat the purpose of avoiding sprawl. Besides, this building will never reach 100% occupancy; none of the high rises in A2 ever have. But hey, don't take my word for it.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

The city should say no, unless there are major improvements to the design. I see no need to approve it as-is. The city has already approved their first proposal, so in effect they're asking the city to turn them down one way or another. We should demand more respect for the city's skyline and streetscape. Have we actually implemented any of the design guidelines we spent so much time and effort (and money) on several years ago?


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

Ugly, poorly designed buildings once built, remain that way forever. It's sad. The architect is somewhat responsible too for this mess. He should be advising his clients as to the need for way more parking. It's ridiculous to think the wealthy students today at UM don't each have cars, and if the building is being marketed to other types of residents, again, parking is needed. Isn't that the issues with most Main Street rentals above shops, no parking? Why can't we learn from demand. Professional demographics need to be considered. Older people with vehicles want to live downtown. And they don't want postage stamp size properties with poor lighting, to live in. Shame on everyone involved in this mess, architect included.


Sun, Aug 25, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.

To Michael, Get real! Even residents in NYC have cars to get out of town. Our state was once and still is auto-based to some degree. People will have cars, sorry. Dream on.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

I'm not entirely sure what the problem is with the apartments above the shops on Main Street is. If there weren't demand for them, the prices wouldn't be so ridiculously high. Also, people adapt to their surroundings. When the infrastructure available makes it more convenient for people to use bicycles and public transportation, people will tend to do that. The parking and road infrastructure that still exists will be available to the people to whom the hassle is worthwhile. In regard to transportation systems, it's a bit like current in an electric circuit: most people will go where the resistance if lowest, but some will still take a higher resistance path. The overall system will take on an equilibrium that reflects peoples' responses to incentives and disincentives. In general, I think we can agree that high car usage isn't a goal to strive toward, so the city is making good policy by providing disincentives to its use. If we keep providing lots of free parking (which is really just a public subsidy to a private form of transportation), more people will be inclined to drive, which makes our city less friendly to pedestrians, and in turn, a less vibrant place to be. There are many reasons people flock to places like Boston and San Francisco, and I would bet my life that it isn't because of their copious amounts of parking.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

How do you know what people do and don't want? where is the survey data?

sandy schopbach

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

Enough with the high-rises!


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

Anybody know how much of the approval process must be revisited for this little addition? Planning commission? City Council?

Vivienne Armentrout

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 7:03 p.m.

"Moore hopes that the new proposal will make its way through the design review board, citizen participation meetings, planning commission and city council review by late winter or early spring 2014."

Eduard Copely

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 6:51 p.m.

Additional funds to grease the wheels of commerce?


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

High-rise Hieftje approved no doubt.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 11:03 a.m.

This is just another giant STAIN on the Ann Arbor Skyline.

Sean Thomas

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 6:42 a.m.

not being a student, this is the LAST place I would EVER want to rent. I'm glad at least one of these developers is thinking about people other than students, but at this location off south U in the heart of the bars all the undergrads go to, I don't see a reason to.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 5:20 a.m.

I thought Hobbs & Black were going to go down as the 'eyesore architects of Ann Arbor" but we have a new contender in Mr. Moore.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 5:09 a.m.

Where/how do they expect these non-students without cars to go grocery shopping? (assuming carless students will get by with a meal plan)

Silly Head

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 5 a.m.

Maybe it will be where the helicopter parents can live.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 4 a.m.

A 13 story high rise over Pizza House on Church St and they are marketing it to people other than students? Who might those be? This is just another student warehouse regardless of what the "developers" try to say. What does this make? 10 in the central AA area? 230 bedrooms and how many parking spaces? Did I miss mention of this in the article?


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 3:29 a.m.

this makes me sick! time to move.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 10:08 a.m.

Don't let the door hit you in the ...


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 3:43 a.m.



Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:24 a.m.

After living in areas that suffer from sprawl and lack of downtown life, I'm happy that we are faced with the above "problems". These are much better problems and challenges to work out than empty buildings, crowded egress streets (and 4 lane empty downtown roadways), blight, abandonment, trash piling in alleys, emergency management, school closings, etc.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 4:03 a.m.

AAPS will be closing schools, eventually. No, there isn't a lot of blight in AA, but a small city filled with 10+ mega student warehouses and a one dimensional downtown population isn't going to be able to gain a real vibrancy and diversity unless it includes a wider variety of demographics in the central core, along with the housing and services to support a population other than 18-22 year olds.

Tex Treeder

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:12 a.m.

Are you kidding me? No. No. No. Is that clear?

The Eyes of Justice Team

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:04 a.m.

It pays off to let the mayor drink and for free....


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 1:38 a.m.

Too late ! The MOOC gotcha ! The progressive UM (and their highrise huggers) will soon be wondering what happened to all of those wealthy students?. MOOC Georgia Tech will start offering their Massive Open Online Courses in January. For $6600 students can earn a Master's Degree in Computer Science - from anywhere in the world. Why Go Blue when you can Surf Blue in Wikiki? Why freeze for finals when you can frolick in France on the Oo la la Riviera Why waste money on Tree Town when you can study out in the real wild ? Why shuffle through the hustlers and carneys on closed Main Street when you can drink beer and watch the hot Rutgers game with friends and family - in HD? GIT is not just another Phoenix fowl. It's Engineering Program is one of the best (after the UM - at least today ). Let's see. Hmmm. $44,000 for a degree or $6600. Let's see. Hmmm. Pizza downstairs again tonite or New England clambake or outback barbie or Beefeater London broil or ... LOL


Mon, Aug 26, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

Special thoughts and prayers for the victims, families, and friends of those who continue to use LOL long past its sell-by date.

Basic Bob

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

Comparing two overrated engineering programs to an online masters program doesn't work. Compare it to an MBA program where you pay some bucks and get a piece of paper for stuff you already knew.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 11:05 a.m.

Umich is desperately clinging to their old model and ignoring the changing times of distance learning. Will we see a contraction of the university in 10 years? A huge housing bust? Very possibly.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

Scale is totally out of context with the location, much too gigantic. Does City Council just rubber-stamp these developments to cram in as much density as possible? Is it a payback for donations? Poor planning.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 4:06 a.m.

bluenella, it's all about $$. More tax dollars into city coffers regardless of the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods. These monster student warehouses just don't stop.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 3:59 a.m.

The 2009 D1 zoning ordinance was intended to encourage maximum density to be constructed downtown. In association with the building of large and necessarily expensive buildings are large increases in property valuations that produce large increases in "Tax Incremental Finances" (TIF). The City Council some years ago arranged for the DDA to receive 17% of TIF revenue that is collected for the city, for the AAATA, for the AADL and for the Washtenaw Community College. The transfer of the allotted TIF revenue to the DDA reduces the money available to these other entities that would otherwise be used for capital expenditures to improve the city and for useful public services. Meanwhile much of the TIF revenue diverted to the DDA is used to service the bonds which pay for the over-sized underground library lot and the mostly private Village Green parking structure (over $47 million dollars in total bond issuance). Even with the TIF money the DDA has been generating annual deficit budgets. The DDA has remained solvent only by draining its reserve funds to cover its operational revenue shortfalls. The DDA financial shambles should be considered when it is otherwise lauded for downtown improvements, many of which will have occurred even without the DDA, IMHO.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:56 a.m.

exactly! waaay out of scale for the area.

Tom Joad

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 11:27 p.m.

No one over 25 would want to live in that neighborhood. It's yet another luxury student boxed highrise, nothing more.

Colorado Sun

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 11:07 p.m.

Pizza House was the site of Mayor John Hieftje's prior electoral victory parties. The two Tice brothers of Pizza House were the biggest donors to Marcia Higgins' ill-fated re-election bid against Jack Eaton; they donated $500 apiece of her approximate $2,500 war chest. Look for money trails between the persons standing to benefit from this proposed project and city leaders.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

What a shocking coincidence.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 10:45 p.m.


Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 10:03 p.m.

This smells like an attempt to build a monster building before the zoning laws change. And the release on a friday smells like an attempt to bury the news.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

Zoning laws and also the makeup of city council which is "a-changin" as Bob Dylan would say.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

No, no, no! There have to be some standards!

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

@johnnya2: they do not own the skyline of the city and the visual stain that will be visible for miles and miles.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 10:06 p.m.


Atticus F.

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 9:32 p.m.

Some people are trying to force a new lifestyle on Americans; Get rid of your car, ride a bike for transportation, live in a cramped/undersized apartment, and subside off of soybeans... basically, they want us to live our lives as they do in communist china. they want us to become poorer, relitively speaking.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

There's a difference between being forced to change your lifestyle and being presented with incentives to change your lifestyle. No one is forcing you at gunpoint to ride a bike and sell your car. However, if the infrastructure of the city makes it vastly more convenient to ride a bike than to drive a car, odds are you'll probably do that. Again, no one is forcing you to buy or rent a small apartment. If you have the money and the desire to do so, I'm sure you can live in a place as large as you'd like. That said, density is a key factor in healthy cities. Seems like there are a lot of people who post in the comments bemoaning the loss of the old Ann Arbor; frankly, get over it and take it as a compliment that people want to live in your city. People will continue to demand housing, which will result in one of three outcomes: 1) No housing is added and rents / housing prices become astronomical, 2) High density housing is constructed and more people live in close proximity to various walkable city centers, or 3) Development will occur on the fringes of the city, producing the suburban wasteland seen in most other cities in our state. Option 1 won't happen because the increasing prices will drive new development, so it's a question of whether we want to encourage density or sprawl. Sprawl has been shown time and again to be wasteful in terms of resources, fails to provide a strong sense of community, and does nothing to produce vibrancy in cities. High density is the best option we have. I agree that the specific architecture of new developments should be more carefully reviewed so we don't end up with vast, featureless buildings that do not contribute aesthetically to their surroundings and that more should be done to increase demographic diversity near the city core, but these are entirely separate questions.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

and their forsing us to lern to spel!

Silly Head

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 4:57 a.m.

Can't get rid of my car, may need it to live in - cheaper than a cramped high-rise apartment.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 4:02 a.m.

Some people who own and drive motor vehicles are vegetarian and many exercise.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 3:32 a.m.

I'm particularly peeved by those who want everyone to switch to riding bikes everywhere. First, there are some of us who aren't very good at riding bikes for more than a few blocks. I'm very athletic when it comes to exercise machines and walking/running, but I can't ride a bike for more than half a mile and even then I can't always stick to riding in a straight line. Thus, I don't ride a bike in traffic. Second, a parent with a child endangers a child riding behind while in traffic. Third, we have four seasons here and that includes ice and snow. Some people have physical disabilities that allow them to drive motor vehicles, but not ride bicycles. I may ride a bike a little within my residential neighborhood, but that's it. I find it interesting that those of us who have been paying property taxes here for many years and that includes paying for street repairs, etc. are being told to switch from supporting roads to emphasizing only forms of transportation that fit us less as we age.

John Q

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:09 a.m.

Getting rid of a car is a great way to boost your income.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 10:27 p.m.

You forgot - live off government subsidies.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 10:18 p.m.

Some people are trying a new lifestyle, getting rid of their cars, bicycling to work, downsizing their living space, and going vegetarian. Good for their physical and mental health, and good for the planet. Meanwhile, in Communist China, people are buying more and more gas-guzzlers. The pollution is so bad, the government is limiting the purchase of cars, and limiting days for driving your car.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 10:15 p.m.

And in China people have been forced to give up cars for bicycles? In what parallel reality? Take a look at the extended parking lots that are the ring roads of Beijing and the highways of Shanghai. The urban Chinese bike can barely thread the bumper-to-bumper traffic that hardly moves.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 9:16 p.m.

What percentage of the 2012 Umich undergrad classes had cars? That data is critical in determining how much parking is required for a development like this.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 11:20 a.m.

Useless data. If a student lives in a dorm, they usually forgo the car due to lack of parking. When they move off campus, they bring a car. What percent of students living off campus have a car is the right question.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

they have all that data. the problem is our mayor doesn't think people need cars, so he's not worrying about them or the people who drive them. heck, he's mayor for life; why should he care?


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

This is a good spot for students. It is an okay spot for young single faculty without kids. It could be an okay spot for young couples without kids, as long as they like hanging out with students or if they are just waiting on finding housing elsewhere. Any professional/non-student will want parking. Families with kids probably won't want to deal with the drunkenness that occurs across the street at Rick's or the other nearby bars. Obviously, the developer has done their research but I think they would be better off sticking with the student idea. That is, of course, unless they decided students wouldn't be able to afford it and want to change it to a demographic that could more afford it. If that was their rationale then they'll probably eat their shirt on this deal...


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 11:37 a.m.

@talker: I was approaching it from the standpoint of who wouldn't need parking. Basically that's just students, lecturers/teaching faculty, or people who work at businesses relatively nearby (maybe as far as Division). It's not so much about being middle-aged as having kids. The latter really forces the need for a car. But you're right as that demographic usually needs transportation and I don't think the public transportation in A2 is sufficient.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 3:59 a.m.

If you are referring to middle aged demographics, then there would need to be ample parking spaces.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

Wow! It looks stunningly unremarkable. PS There's no way they'll find anybody other than students to live in that place. Dreams to the contrary are just that - dreams.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:57 a.m.

i wish they would build something that would be more appropriate to faculty and staff. I'd love to be able to walk to work. But we can't afford these places, even though our students (parents) can.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

Unreal - more ugly high rises. *sigh* I miss Ann Arbor.

Scott Reed

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:16 p.m.

Looks good!


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:06 p.m.

This is how you fight urban sprawl. Downtowns build lots of apartments / condo's competing for buyers which should lower the unit price. And who knows, when all this building is done there may be enough demand for a grocery downtown.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 5:24 a.m.

None of the takers for these units, at this time, were going to be buying 'Sprawl housing" who are you kidding? Do you seriously think ONE person who is going to live here is waiting to decide between this development and the Biltmore Farmer Grants sub?


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 4:09 a.m.

Still waiting for a lower unit price. Haven't seen it yet anywhere in town in spite of 10 student warehouses, condos, etc built in recent years. Never happen. It's about what the market will bear, that's all. Greed reigns in AA.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 3:56 a.m.

I meant the southeast corner of Washtenaw and Huron Parkway is where there is a bus stop where someone can transfer from the Washtenaw Avenue bus to bus #22 that goes east on Washtenaw and then south on Carpenter Road as far as Meijers.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 3:21 a.m.

There's a bus route along Washtenaw that stops close enough to Trader Joes, Whole Food, and Hillers. I think it's #4 (if not, it's #5). On the southwest corner of Washtenaw and Huron Parkway, a person who wants to go to Meijers from the campus area could transfer to #22, which turns south onto Carpenter Road and goes as far as Meijers. A person could get a vertical, cart to roll his/her own groceries, etc. from store to home. However, that wouldn't work when children and their car seats are involved. (The #22 bus goes to and from Meijers and up Huron Parkway and to north campus as well as some non-student residential areas south of Plymouth Road.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:53 a.m.

uh-huh, and all these living and shopping people park their cars where?

Ben Freed

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:11 p.m.

JimmyD, A general grocery store on SouthU is an intriguing prospect. I could have seen one going into the space below University Towers (what will now be BurgerFi). The Revive + Replenish stores underneath Zaragon do good business according to the owners.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

Glad to see that they are including studio-2 bedrooms. Do we know what the rental rates are supposed to be yet?

Ben Freed

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

GoBlue, No word on rates yet, I will try to get in touch with Opus to see if I can have anything but those probably won't come out until the construction gets underway.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:59 p.m.

So it's to be adjacent to, and not on top of, the Pizza House? The headlines and stories should be clearer about that - some of the early reports have been misleading. I don't care one way or the other, as long as they keep those old ads with the cheerleaders and football players smoking cigarettes. I crack up every time I see them.

Ben Freed

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

Sorry for the confusion, I was hoping that the map would help clear things up. The building will go on top of half of Pizza House (the half that was added more recently and has a foundation that can support the building). The original pizza house building will not have anything on top of it. The building will then also be built on what are now the adjacent properties down to the corner with Willard.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:58 p.m.

Bring back Morelli's! Their food was so much better than Pizza House


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:51 p.m.

Gworty - other than the fact that you should like a renter of ZIP cars, do you really think even 60% of the people in this new building are going to do without cars. Please get a grip on reality and curb the sales speeches.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 3:13 a.m.

Please return to earth. There's no interurban. Many of the mass transit ideas won't work here because there aren't enough riders to support them. The public in general supports some public transportation, but the expense of some types of transportation that people envision would be too costly even with substantial subsides. There are people who say they'd take a train to Detroit for an event, but commuter rail can't work without a certain number of regular, paying customers. There was some commuter rail between Ann Arbor and Detroit in the late 1970's. There weren't enough riders even under lenient requirements for commuter rail to continue. There's that saying about those who ignore the past or ignore history are doomed to repeat it. I know I don't have that saying correct, but that's the gist of it. One problem with commuter rail is that some people don't stop work at the exact time as others or at the exact time every day. If there aren't enough riders for more than one or two trains in each direction, then fewer people than one might expect would use commuter rail. There's also the issue of getting from stations to destinations. How would someone who works at the DMC (Detroit Medical Center) get to the train station. Michivans are more flexible and even groups supporting use of a van sometimes disband.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 3:02 a.m.

Um, pretty sure Lincoln Park is INSIDE Chicago.. but I only lived there for ten years so maybe I missed the signs.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:57 a.m.

As a Chicago native, I'm aware of the fabulous mass transportation that fits the density in Lincoln Park and other neighborhoods. Around here there are no express buses at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 10:42 p.m.

Should I put a saddle on my dog to get him to his vet across town?


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

My point exactly. Just because Detroiters/Ann Arborites have been brainwashed into believing they need cars to lead fulfilling lives doesn't mean the rest of us have to settle for that. Historically Ann Arbor had a great public transportation system connected thru an interurban trolley/rail system that could take you from Detroit through A2 to Chicago, WITHOUT A CAR. Oh for the good old days.

John of Saline

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

Generalizing your situation to everyone else isn't all that helpful here.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:06 p.m.

Cherrish your planet killing car if you like. I did't need to own a car when I lived just outside Chicago (Lincoln Park) and I dont here either!

Eduard Copely

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

Back in the 80s the trend was to build downtown office towers in the hopes of one day attracting new business ventures and to create a vibrant and bustling downtown. So, developers came and they built their office towers and many, to this day, remain under utilized and most never reached 100% occupancy (don't take my word for it) and then the economy tanked and they went away leaving their monuments of greed for us all to look upon as we went about our daily lives. Now, in the new millennium, the trend is luxury "student" condos and once again developers are flocking to Ann Arbor with some reasonable and not so reasonable proposals for transforming our somewhat vibrant downtown into an international student mecca. Yet, what these developers (and city council) seem unaware of is the changing dynamics of university and college education and the fact that a growing number are moving to online instruction which sadly will render many these luxury condos vacant as students start to tele-commute in ever increasing numbers to campuses nation wide.

Eduard Copely

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 11:37 a.m.

As I said, don't take my word for it.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 4:14 a.m.

Sellers - The former Borders building had more than enough space for Barracuda but still had to provide financial inducements to get them to move into it, as is defined in the following statement from an article: "Key to that investment is a five-year tax abatement from the City of Ann Arbor totaling $85,150, and $1.2 million in funding the company expects to receive from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's business development program. Both initiatives were announced in a news release on Wednesday. ""The incentive is definitely a strong contributing factor for us," Heiney said." (Sean Heiney is Barracuda's director of new product initiatives.)


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

The developers get paid "up front" and benefit whether or not apartments are leased.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:20 a.m.

There are several companies that had to move out of downtown due to lack of space. Barracuda was one, but lucked out and moved into the old borders.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

Yeah I sure miss the 1880's.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

Eduard - Try to lease a 10,000 sq ft office space in downtown Ann Arbor. Can't be done. They are all full. We desperately need more office space in downtown Ann Arbor. The approved plan for Ann Arbor is more density. This look a lot like density. More office space would also be good.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:14 p.m.

Yes, I'm sure all these developers are building these towers because they're not making any money off of them.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

I think that downtown office space is pretty much fully leased. Capitalism works.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:42 p.m.

Forget about parking - people are finding they can do without cars! This city has a great bus system as does the university AND we have many Zip Cars, that combined with pier-to-pier ridesharing is making it possible for people to live just fine without the hassel and expense of a car! Get liberated and get free from cars!


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

i have lots of students at the UM who don't have cars. not everyone will need parking spots.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:53 a.m.

Let's be consistent. The developer is including apartments aimed at non-students. If there are target residents of all ages and careers, some residents will expect on-site parking. Also, some people with physical disabilities need to drive vehicles tailored to their needs. Some people have children to need to ride in safety seats and prefer their own for reasons that include having chosen to buy certain safety seats, not using safety seats other children have, and the ability to leave certain other items in their own vehicles. Many people find that having private vehicles is liberating.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

What if I don't want to ride to a pier?

John of Saline

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:11 p.m.

I'm working on freeing myself from exclamation points. Not there yet!


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:41 p.m.

Ugly! Ugly! and more Ugly!


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

Ann Arbor needs to require they provide a decent amount of parking. This many units is going to result in a lot of cars. Who in their right mind would want to live in a building with students? Noisy, rowdy, up most of the night on weekends, puking in elevators, stairwells, ... And that's just the good stuff.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

"They intend to market it more widely, not just to students," he said. "Gee, I would really like to live in an apartment building filled with students" said no one ever...

Great Lakes Lady

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 12:24 p.m.

"Renting to non-students" statement was probably a formality in getting approvals. What young professionals or anyone would want to live in student housing....and with no parking??


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 9:41 p.m.

Nicely played.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:14 p.m.

The notion that students will not have cars and require parking is absurd.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 4:11 a.m.

What's the definition of "tons of studies?" What were parameters of the studies? How many people responded? What are the demographics of the respondents? etc. etc.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 10:43 p.m.

Especially the students who can afford these high rises. Times have changed, and these students have cars.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

Tons of new studies have revealed that more and more of the population is doing without a car!! Google it!

Ben Freed

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

I don't think it's necessarily absurd. I didn't have a car during my first two years of college and I have a number of friends who did not have cars all four years.

John of Saline

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

Decades ago, the University banned them for students. They anticipated the problem.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:13 p.m.

Why must Ann Arbor taxpayers be in the parking business, and develop parking to support new high rises? It sure looks like the DDA has taxpayers subsidizing these developers by giving them discounted parking. The zoning should require them to build parking for residents, residents' guests, and any businesses. The practice of the DDA selling off citizen developed and owned parking assets to private developers must stop.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:44 a.m.

It has become customary for developers to get reprieves from paying property taxes for at least some years. Thus Ann Arbor taxpayers are supporting such developments.

John Q

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:05 a.m.

It would be better if the zoning didn't require parking.

Mackinac Straits

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 9:29 p.m.

The commercial property owners in the DDA pay an additional tax on top of the base property tax that is paid by all. That extra tax goes to the DDA to own and operate the parking structures within the DDA, so businesses don't have to worry about that. If you look at Ann Arbor versus other cities, this arrangement seems to have worked wonderfully.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

Leases make the parking unavailable for the people who paid for the development and construction.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

nothing is sold! The DDA leases the parking spaces to private businesses that request them as long as there are available spaces. If there are no available spaces then there woud be none for the DDA to lease. Right now the supply of city/DDA parking spaces is greater than the demand for same.

Nic F.

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 6:50 p.m.

*sigh* Landmark part two. I don't have a problem with high rises and student housing, but the building is still FUGLY as crap! My issue with landmark is that is this HUGE prefab looking structure thats very unimaginative. At least they'll except ppl. other then students.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

"accept" ppl. other "than" students


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:41 a.m.

Will people other than students want to pay high rents to live in a high rise with inadequate parking? Perhaps some people with U. of M. parking passes who are willing to park a few blocks away will like the location, but I think the hopes of renting large apartments to non-students is overly optimistic.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 11:56 p.m.

You may think my house is ugly, but it's not a 144,000+ square foot monstrosity sitting within a quarter mile of one of equally minimal aesthetic quality. Garbage begets garbage.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 9:34 p.m.

Looks as bad as Varsity! Enough!


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

Parking situation aside, this will be a boon for the local businesses.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 12:06 a.m.

,,,, only if it achieves a significant occupancy rate and has discretionary income left after paying the hefty rental fees that these apartments must charge due to high cost of land purchase and construction. I will always wish "good luck" to every new enterprise in Ann Arbor as bankruptcies do nothing good for our city. However, if the demand for high priced student and young professional highrise apartments is exceeded by new construction failure will occur.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

Good place for a high rise, especially one with color and various depths, which does not hearken to the Dark Tower of Mordor.

Eduard Copely

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 6:55 p.m.

Huh? It is completely devoid of any design.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 3:28 a.m.

IMHO, so much uglier than an all brick building w/ a modicum of detailing and corbelling. BTW, brick is pricier, prob the reason they are not foing much brick.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

Who is providing the additional parking? Thank you sir, may I please have another?!!


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

The original parking plan needs to be changed massively if the developer plans to market apartments beyond the student population. A building that includes apartments with one, two, and three bedroom apartments needs to provide parking spaces based on some apartments requiring one space and some requiring two spaces. Forty parking spaces in an existing, nearby garage isn't sufficient since those spaces aren't exclusive to the new construction and in fact are likely needed by those who live or work in other buildings.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 11:21 p.m.

Sorry, "rescue".


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 11:20 p.m.

Parking? Who is going to provide fire service/recue above the second floor while AAFD's new Tower sits out at station 6? Can you say "Pittsfield", "Ypsilanti"?


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:59 p.m.

Ben - you had me with the "0 to 5" crack. But then again, 40, really ? That's pretty close to "0 to 5".

Ben Freed

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 6:56 p.m.

The original plan had 0 parking spaces. The new plan has 5. Joking aside, Ryan Stanton previously reported that the Ann Arbor DDA has agreed to make roughly 40 spaces available to the developer in the nearby Forest Avenue parking garage.

Ben Freed

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 6:52 p.m.

Also, I think the hope in building many of these high rises so close to campus is that students will choose to not have a car with them.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 6:39 p.m.

"They intend to market it more widely, not just to students" Yeah, good luck with that.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 9:53 p.m.

Well it seems Pizza House has been able to market themselves to others beyond students.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 9:52 p.m.

Re: young professionals and new faculty, maybe... But with the building right across the street from Rick's I'm pretty skeptical as well. (For example, my fiancee and I graduated a few years ago and we're actually looking at moving back to AA. We still enjoy a night out at the Brown Jug, but would never even think about moving into an apartment off of South U.) Although, I guess I'm not really one to talk. I can't understand who's filling all of these high-rise luxury buildings to begin with. How do this many students have/get enough money to fill up the Zaragons and 411's of the world? But they keep building them, so there's clearly something I'm just missing.

John of Saline

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

Or visiting/new faculty.

Ben Freed

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 6:53 p.m.

fjord, Students do tend to gravitate to apartments with 4-6 bedrooms as they help defray the costs. It's definitely in a heavily student area, but you might see some young professionals (or at the very least graduate students) snap up some of the one bedroom and studio apartments.