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Posted on Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 5:55 a.m.

294-unit 'upscale' apartment project proposed for Nixon and M-14

By Lizzy Alfs


A real estate firm wants to build apartments on this vacant site at M-14 and Nixon Road in Ann Arbor Township.

Lizzy Alfs |

A Birmingham-based real estate firm wants to build a 294-unit “upscale” apartment project at Nixon Road and M-14.

The development, proposed by Bleznak Real Estate Investment Group, is the latest in a series of new multifamily housing projects in the Ann Arbor area.

Bleznak’s proposal calls for five apartment buildings with 294 total units to be constructed in two phases on the southeast corner of Nixon and M-14 in Ann Arbor Township. The property is located near Barclay Park condominiums and Windemere Park apartments.

Township records show the real estate firm purchased the property from Don Nixon for $1.3 million in December.

“No one has ever successfully been able to purchase the property and make a project work on this site before,” explained Scott Betzoldt of Midwestern Consulting, the civil engineer for the project. “We’ve looked at (the property) with a lot of other people.”

According to a notice circulated to residents living within 1,000 feet of the site, the company wants to develop about 15 acres of the 53-acre property. The project requires a property annexation from the township to the city of Ann Arbor.

Betzoldt — who said the apartments will not be catered to student renters — said parking will be provided via garages or carports, as well as some surface parking.

A representative with Bleznak Real Estate Investment Group was not immediately available to comment on the plans, but the firm will discuss details of the project and solicit feedback at a public meeting at 7 p.m. on June 25 at the Traverwood Branch Library.

The Bleznak proposal follows a surge of apartment development concentrated in the downtown Ann Arbor area, but it also comes on the heels of several proposed housing projects on the north side of Ann Arbor.

In February, Oakland County developer Trowbridge Homes announced plans to build 19 homes at 2000 Traver Road, just northeast of Barton Drive.

Two months later, Ann Arbor’s First Martin Corporation proposed a 251-unit apartment project at 2225 Traverwood Dr., two miles from the Nixon and M-14 property.

“I think that there is obviously existing demand if you look at occupancies of apartment communities in Ann Arbor,” First Martin’s Mike Martin told in April.

National real estate data shows the demand for multifamily housing is surging in markets across the country. According to a Freddie Mac report, the rate of home ownership declined from 68.2 percent in 2007, to 65.5 percent in the second quarter of 2012 as more households switched from homeowners to renters.

With growing demand for apartments, the number of multifamily housing starts in the U.S. jumped 49 percent in 2012, according to the National Association of Home Builders. NAHB forecasts multifamily starts will increase 31 percent in 2013.

In Washtenaw County, builders filed 348 multifamily construction permits in 2012 and 351 permits in 2011, the most since its previous peak in 2004. There were 46 permits filed during the first five months of 2013, according to data compliled by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

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



Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 6:20 a.m.

Oh no! Another high rise in Ann Arbor! Whatever shall we do?

Jay Thomas

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

I'm shocked that the greenbelt folks aren't including this for consideration. Just how do they decide spend/invest the money they have? It seems rather haphazard.

Dirty Mouth

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

Bring out the Gimp.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

Out of curiosity, who is their target renter group? They say "not student renters..." so would these be young professional single people in their 20s and 30s? Do we really need more apartments as opposed to condos or single family homes?


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 7:55 p.m.

they should build A 100% low income housing project here and help get rid homeless crisis .


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 7:52 p.m.

dont make us feel bad!!! stop building you cant afford.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

I'm a nearby resident and have to say that I really hope the wetlands are not disturbed during the construction of this project. I drive this area frequently, and enjoy looking at the wildlife. I think this (the wetlands and natural ponds) would be a lovely asset to the apartments, along with some connecting paths to the other nearby developments for foot/bike access.

Dirty Mouth

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

Huh? I thought the idea was to avoid sprawl? Not contribute to it!!!


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

lol get real


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

Another out of town developer trying to cash in on one of Ann Arbor's natural areas. As mentioned previously I wonder how much thought they have given to contributing to the surrounding infrastructure? The last thing that are a needs is another 500+ cars traveling through the area. Maybe they would like to contribute to reforming the Nixon and Green intersection or rehabilitating Nixon Rd? I doubt it. Please keep us informed on any further developments.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

NE Steward raises a very good point. In the evening, northbound Nixon routinely backs up from the intersection of Green/Dhu Varren almost all the way to Traver. There is no sidewalk on either side of Nixon from Traver to Westbury Ct., and then it's only on one side of the street past Westbury to Green Rd. Pedestrians are oftentimes put in a dangerous situation where they have to dash across Nixon all while avoiding speeders barreling down the hill southbound on Nixon. Adding a 294-unit development without major changes and upgrades in safety features will put too much pressure on an already inadequate road/bikelane/sidwalk "system".


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 8:14 p.m.

There is a sidewalk planned for installation this August starting from the DhuVarren/Green Road intersection and along Nixon Road to Traver (along Northbury Condos). My concern with the apartment development is fixing the DhuVarn/Green Road intersection. Straighten this out or put in a roundabout... it's sorely needed.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

Interesting that this article didn't generate talk about what would then be a much-needed cloverleaf at M-14.

NE Steward

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

Yikes - that would be a nightmare. We do not need to destroy more neighborhoods with commuter traffic.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

Isn't that mostly farm land over there now? What would make someone want to live out in the hinterland like that and pay a premium price to do so?

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

@Hmm - I was told that the site actually had corn on it last year. Across the street is farmland


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

Different strokes... I wonder what would make someone pay $300K+ for a one bedroom condo sandwiched among 100 others with no yard in the middle of downtown.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

Ann Arbor is sadly missing high end apartments for families and singles wanting to be away from the average human trash that exists in most other city complexes. They want security gates, special transportation arrangements, special parking lot rules, a 'no children' rule, maybe a dog park, a party store with only California or French beverages and of course, no dumpsters in view of their living space. As visionary shepards of the high end lifestyle, University executives need the semi temporary living space and environment to be able to comfortably search for their next employers in Colorado, Europe and Asia.

Tex Treeder

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

Satire often goes over people's heads.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

Nicely said!!! Hahhaaa

James D'Amour

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

@2WheelsGood: You will have to deal with considerably more traffic. That being said, neighboring property value is not a consideration when Planning Commission and Council recommend and approve or disapprove new projects.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

I should clarify... I own it, but I don't live there. So the traffic is my renter's problem. :) I just want to sell it, so I need the property value to go up. Hence my incredibly selfish attitude.

James D'Amour

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

In a way this is very unfortunate... we are losing area land suitable for agriculture and so close to the city -- a prime candidate for the greenbelt. Sadly, the landowner would have had no interest (he had publicly stated this in various meetings) in selling the land for such purposes. And also sadly, the NE Area Master Plan pushed for as much density as possible here (you can thank city planning staff for that as well). Result, much more traffic on the outskirts of the city. While it is dense, it can be labeled "sprawl" as well.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

your right we have city wide garden and plant farm here.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

Well, I think if they develop carefully and leave the wetlands and natural areas intact, it will be fine. Development isn't going to stop, they just need to do a good job and make sure the company preserves the best parts of that area. I also hope for bike and foot paths to connect that development to the other nice parks and natural areas on the Northside, as well as increased safety features near the schools for pedestrians.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

James, while you make some good points, I am inclined to say it's better to have this inside the freeway ring than outside. Keep the land north of M14 rural and let the land south of M14 fill up, assuming adequate infrastructure is added. (In this case, I'm thinking sidewalks and bike lanes and maybe a roundabout at Nixon / Dhu Vharren.)


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

As the owner of a condo in Barclay Park, I just want to know if my property value will go up or down. Otherwise I couldn't care less.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

The only advantage to that is a place to throw trash. Barclay Park folks already get yelled at for using Windemere's dumpster.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

Oh, 2WheelsGood, You do not own the home that will be next to the massive 413 East Huron Street under construction so, no matter what, you will not take as big a hit on your property value. Of course, if the new development has its garbage dumpster placed nearby your home, well .........


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

I think you took me a wee bit too seriously.

Tex Treeder

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

And that's exactly why foolish plans like these get approved: apathy and total self-interest by those nearby.

Dog Guy

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

As Myron Cohen noted, "Everybody gotta be someplace."


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

What an awful location. How cheap will rent have to be to justify the cost of driving for every single errand? Walkscore = 3/100

Jon Wax

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

sounds great... 1 thing, though: how about you build it IN birgmingham? we don't need any more of those things. and Nixon road is fine the way it is. you guys have changed it enough. dumb idea, stupid location. Peace Wax

Tex Treeder

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

I agree 100%.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

What a crappy (can I say that) location for a high end apartment. Who wants to overlook M14...


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

If desirable I am sure that the builders will construct a visual and sound buffer between the apartment complex and the highway. It can be posed as a question when the builders talk to the local folk about their project on June 25 at the Traverwood library branch.

NE Steward

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

This would mean an additional 300+ cars traveling back and forth on Nixon! Will the developer or city improve the infrastructure on Nixon Rd to safely and effectively accommodate another 300+ cars? Like to hear from the developer and city what the plan is to support this and future development. There are three schools on and in close proximity to Nixon, no continuous safe bycicle path or sidewalk, questionable crosswalks for the school children, and an intersection at Green/Dhu Varren and Nixon which is already a nightmare. Let alone an already cogested and undersized circular intersection and bus stop at the Huron/Nixon intersections

Superior Twp voter

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

I'm with you, Steward, except I'd guess that with 294 apt units the results would be closer to 500 vehicles coming/going each day. Developer should be assessed road improvement funds.

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

@NE Steward: Good questions. The developer hasn't gotten back to me yet with more information on the project, but the city notice says you can direct questions to


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

... and street lighting is poor or absent also. The roundabout at Huron Parkway and Nixon Road is limited in size due to restricted available land. Nevertheless, the roundabout functions well except for brief periods of heavy traffic like during rush hours. If drivers entering the roundabout were courteous and attentive traffic would move well even at the busiest times.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

I never thought that I would say this, but that intersection would be a perfect fit for a roundabout!


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

Why does it require annexation by Ann Arbor, with its higher taxes?

Bertha Venation

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:53 p.m.

This is the same crap the City pulled with us in Scio Township a few years ago.

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

@Crono, that's right. The city is slowing annexing 583 "township islands." The Ann Magazine has a nice map and story on this: The M-14 and Nixon property is one of those islands.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

I am sure they want city water and sewer.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

I believe the City of Ann Arbor has an agreement with Ann Arbor Township and Pittsfield Township to slowly annex the "islands" that are currently encompassed by the City within the confines of the US-23/I-94-M-14 ring.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 10:54 a.m.

"will not be catered"?