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Posted on Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Nearby residents, business owners and tenants react to the new Landmark high-rise: What do you think?

By Ben Freed


A funky chandelier hangs near the elevators at Landmark.

Melanie Maxwell I

As the finishing touches are put on the brand new Landmark apartment building on the corner of South University and South Forest avenues, its effects already are being felt economically, aesthetically and even emotionally.

“I mean, it’s just changed the whole landscape of this area,” Joel Elconin said. “It’s a monstrosity.”

Elconin is in Ann Arbor from West Bloomfield to help his daughter move into the house right next door to the new 14-story, 606-bed development. His daughter — a fourth generation Wolverine — and himself do not believe the previous generations would look kindly on the project.

“It’s a good thing my dad is not alive to see this,” he said. “He would be so disappointed.”

But the students were far more positive in their estimation of the building, which was developed by Ron Hughes of Hughes Properties and is owned by Campus Acquisitions

The biggest complaint: tenants have to wait one more day before getting their room keys.

“I just can’t wait to move in,” U-M junior Rachel Rosen said. “I chose to live here because it’s the newest and nicest apartment building. Everyone is living here; it’s basically going to be like a big frat house.”


New luxury student high-rise Landmark in Ann Arbor.

Melanie Maxwell I

Rosen and her friends — all in the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority — were on South Forest taking in the exterior of the building Wednesday afternoon.

Despite referring to the building as an "eye-sore," the girls were willing to overlook the building's exterior to focus more on the benefits of the building’s location.

“I would have been in this area a lot anyway, but now we’ll be much closer to Blue Lep[rechaun] and Insomnia Cookies, and all of the places along South (University),” Rosen said.

“So I guess we’ll have easier access to the late-night food.”

Junior Nick Kim is living in an apartment two doors down on South Forest, and said he's not as thrilled with the prospect of so many hard-partying students living close by. He said he considered living at Landmark, but determined it was “way overpriced.”

“I’m a little bit nervous about the noise level that will be coming out of there,” he said.

“There are probably going to be a lot of parties, especially on the weekends.”

Prime Student Housing, the company that lists most of the apartments and houses directly adjacent and across the street from Landmark, had no problem filling their beds even with the new real estate in the area.

“We were able to rent everything, the same as last year,” assistant manager Cevone Smith said.

“There’s nothing wrong with them being there, and there’s nothing wrong with variety and options. Right now, their price point is significantly higher than ours. I wouldn’t start to worry unless their prices started to drop.”


Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are in every kitchen in the new Landmark student housing building.

Melanie Maxwell I

Businesses in the surrounding blocks are expecting an increase in traffic as students move into the new apartments and some, like the Blue Leprechaun, have even starting to cater to their new neighbors.

“We opened up the Study Hall Lounge this summer with the idea that it would be catering to many of the students moving in to Landmark,” general manager Mike Gradillas said.

“It’s an underground lounge, and we wanted to give it the feel of a bar you might find in Chicago or New York City. A more upscale feel that we think South University is (now) ready for.”

The opening of Landmark brings 600 students to the downtown area. Including the new City Place and Zaragon West developments, downtown Ann Arbor’s residential capacity has grown by nearly 1,000 beds this year. It has been extremely rare for Ann Arbor to experience that kind of single-incident residential growth. According to census data, the downtown population only grew by 151 people between 1990 and 2000.

While many of the businesses are pleased with the prospect of 600 additional students living nearby, the downside for some residents is that institutions, such as the Village Corner, a branch of the Campus Student Bike Shop, and two historic houses had to be torn down to make way for the new development.

“I’m going to miss coming to the Village Corner,” U-M social work grad student Halla Motawi said. “For me, groceries are more important than having a bunch of new apartments.”

Maggie Ladd, director of the South University Area Association, said despite the loss of some older structures, Landmark vindicates the city’s decision to change the zoning and allow structures taller than two stories in the area.

The area was re-zoned in 2006 to allow for denser buildings with unlimited height; they were restricted in 2009 to 170-feet, about 16 stories.

“As soon as the zoning was changed, Zaragon started (construction) and the Landmark (came after),” she said. “There are a couple more projects in the pipeline and we’re hopeful that this isn’t just going to be one or two buildings, but it will be more that that. We’re hopeful that the next projects will be smaller apartments and more suitable for non-student residents that will be there 365 days a year.”

Ben Freed covers business for Reach him at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

Can't have hope and change without any change..................

Stuart Brown

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

The $975 to $1875 price range is not that much different than what the dorms are charging. Given the ridiculous sums UofM is spending to rehab Alice Lloyd Hall (and then turning around and passing the bloated costs on to students and their families), I can see why this new student housing appears to be so popular. I suspect that one of the main reasons private developers can come into Ann Arbor and offer premium student housing is due to the uncontrolled price inflation in University run student housing over the last 30 years. Look at the price inflation of University Housing over the last 30 years and compare it to the cost of living in student owned and operated student housing run by the ICC. The U's price inflation is about 50% more per year over the CPI while the ICC's is about equal to the CPI. Oh, and by-the-way, the ICC property pays local property taxes (about $250,000 per year) while the University housing pays no local property taxes. If the U actually cared about students, they would have torn down Alice Lloyd and given the $56 million (minus the cost of demolition) to the ICC; the ICC could have provided about 1200-2400 beds for the same money.

mike gatti

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

I think it is neat to see these buildings go up around us. Maybe someday when we are all gone A2 will be the commercial, cultural social Hub of the state. Never know. Very exciting.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

There just recently was an article about AA trying to get more affordable housing built downtown, Avalon Housing I think it refers to. It used to be that if a developer wanted to build housing in A2, they had to commit so many units to "affordable housing" residents. What happened to that? Did they stop doing that? If college student housing development over rides that, why not impose some provision for low income UM students getting some units? I have always felt that if you are going to force low income housing, it should be in all neighborhoods, and make the wealthy folk have low income neighbors too, not clump the poor folks all together in one small area.

music to my ear

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

hey silly sam is silly sally your mom


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

no. no relation.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

I'd trade it all for just one fresh Fragel.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

Bagel Fragel on Plymouth Rd. You're welcome.

Ron Granger

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

@Chase Ingersoll: "If you see anyone grumbling here it is because of their Marxist mindset of envy" Why, yes, indeed. Anyone who disagrees is a COMMUNIST! Well said, comrade.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 11:39 a.m.

Why the article? Why the discussion? It's a student area and this is new student housing. Who cares what the rent is? And why would you care? Is that any of your business? And as far as looks go: how could it be worse than the usual rundown slum housing our local landlords love to specialize in? It's big. So what. It's clean. It's new. It will have to be well maintained and the parties will be contained inside. Not all change is bad. Really, it isn't

Jake C

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

Seriously? This is a years-long culmination of a real estate project that has dramatically changed the landscape of the South University region. It brings high-rent housing to a space that used to be a commercial zoning district. It's the start of a new collegiate school year. And this property is almost totally occupied. The better question is "why wouldn't this be news"? Obviously you felt it was newsworthy enough to comment on, therefore....

The Picker

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 10:21 p.m.

Its gonna be like a Big Frat House !


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

Mick52, I don't know if it will work. They have at least 4 or 5 guards on duty at the entrance. ID is required to enter. Non-residents must register & check in.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:10 p.m.

SillySam how do they come up with that? How can they do that? If so they are just going to go up and down over and over anyway.

say it plain

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 3:49 a.m.

Yeah, so, at say 10 minutes per soak, they can get about 400 people in and out of that 40-person hot-tub per roughly 2 hour period...that's on an outdoor deck right?! That'll be interesting ambient noise in the area!


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 3 a.m.

I have been told by security each resident is allowed just one guest at a time. Still, thats 1,200 students if everyone brings a friend.

say it plain

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 1:15 a.m.

As per one of its new residents quoted in this piece! I am a little worried for the neighborhood just on this count lol...I guess we'll find out soon how a 14 story frat house works out, woohoo!


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 8:14 p.m.

Looks great! Hope the students enjoy it and take care of it. Great location, amenities, interiors and floor plans. Gosh, I wish I could live there now!


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

The only eyesore on South U is U Towers and should be torn down. People say Landmark will look bad in 5 years, look at U Towers. You should be complaining about that. Landmark has character. I'd take traditional masonry and limestone with large expansive windows and bays over UTs teeny tiny windows and 1960's stone facade any day.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 3:05 a.m.

U Towers indeed needs to be torn down. Landmark looks nicer, but its far too big and imposing for its surroundings. The once-village-like atmosphere in that area is alas a thing of the past.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 7:01 p.m.

this is a behemouth, but i'd rather have this kind of dense construction in town than the horrible tract housing spreading in all directions outside of town. I do wish they had designed something with better aesthetics. The building looks like it is unfinished. Also, too bad the Village Corner is going to be "replaced" with a 7-11 in the building, instead of something local like "Refresh" on E University.

Linda Peck

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

The exterior looks good, solid, interesting. How the interior will hold up remains to be seen. Hopefully, it will do very well and still be attractive in 20 years.

David Paris

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 1:53 a.m.

It has real brick, laid by real masons, much better than 411Lofts!


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 4:17 p.m.

Why does the article talk about "downtown"? It's on South U., right?


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 11:09 p.m.

The article specifically states "The opening of *Landmark* brings 600 students to the downtown area." Landmark is the building on South U. The downtown buildings are City Place and Zaragon West. Perhaps you should have read it a little more carefully.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 8:33 p.m.

because they built two other similar style buildings DOWNTOWN. Is that hard to grasp?


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

Is the Village Corner not moving back into one of the ground floor retail spaces?


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 3:02 a.m.

That's not far enough away. I always hated that place b/c of its arrogant, rude staff.

say it plain

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

They moved to a little plaza on Plymouth Road near North Campus...


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

Granite counter tops for students......good grief....


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

I looked up granite counter tops and found out they need a lot of maintenance, cleaning and polishing so I wonder how that will work out.

C.C. Ingersoll

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 10:14 p.m.

Dontcha' know that Ramen Noodles taste SOOO much better prepared in a gourmet kitchen when you're spending $21,000 a year on housing?

say it plain

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 8:07 p.m.

It's for their pastry making sessions don't ya know ;-) Doesn't granite need even more maintenance than regular countertops lol?! And we know how well students maintain their kitchens... I really do wonder about maid service in this joint, you'd think it would be offered as an option!


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

Students are renting apartments for $975 to $1,745 -- oh my goodness. Who's paying these high rents?


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

For that rent you could get your child an apartment of their own on Medford and buy them a reliable used car. Or they can ride the AATA for free with their student ID card. A Kroger and Trader Joe's not far for groceries. That is the way I would go. This is nuts although being close to campus does have some time benefits. You want to save time or money is the difference I suppose.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 2:58 a.m.

My understanding is that the $975 to $1,745 is not per apartment but per bedroom in a shared apartment. Meaning, each apartment is really more then a few grand per month.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

student aka their parents or federal loans (us)


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.



Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

Out of state parents, plain and simple.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

I think the exterior looks pretty nice. It could have been a lot worse, like the "modern" buildings of steel and glass.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

It is really too bad that people cannot appreciate the "ART" of the building!

Chase Ingersoll

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

Ann Arbor competes with the rest of the country and the world for the one percent that can afford $30-60 per day for a bed. Build expensive housing like this in Ann Arbor, and "they" (1%) will come and spend their money here rather than Chicago, New York or Singapore. All of us in the local retail or service industry benefit from developments that bring in the 1%. If you see anyone grumbling here it is because of their Marxist mindset of envy, self loathing and lack of gratitude that they get to live in and make a decent living in a great small city at a fraction of the costs that these wealthy outsiders are willing to pay. Thank God for rich people. They can afford to hire, tip and donate.

Jake C

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

Everyone can afford to hire, tip and donate. They might not be able to hire a chauffer, or tip 30%, or donate $3 million each year, but everyone can hire, tip, and donate. Only gullible fools worship at the altar at the 1% and thank them for the scraps they throw down at us lowly mortals. Smart people build a business that can survive off the support of the middle class.

C.C. Ingersoll

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 10:11 p.m.

Hey, off the subject but do you have a brother named Shane?

say it plain

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 8:06 p.m.

This is all about the college costs bubble...better hope it doesn't collapse like RE did. As to @Ingersoll's conceptions about social organization, I can only shake my head in amazement really, no point in making points lol...

Linda Peck

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

Mr Ingersoll, we certainly do need the money the wealthy bring here. I am glad it comes in to support us, the rest of middle wayers. Thanks for your opinion. I, too, appreciate the wealth of interesting business in Ann Arbor. It adds greatly to the quality of life here.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 3 p.m.

I think we can leave God out of it. Thank Federal policies that have favored wealth accumulation by a few at the expense of many. And if you're taking Monday off, thank laborers who fought (some died) for reasonable work conditions and holiday from labor.

Wolf's Bane

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

These types of "Landmark" buildings are tacky moneymakers for a few choice developers and the city, but at a real long-term determent to the neighborhoods they occupy. I don't think the city considered for moment the impact an additional 600 students (and cars) will have on the environment and eroding standard of living of existing populace. Never mind the fact that these cash cow buildings lack any architectural aesthetic. Furthermore, it is pretty clear that a majority of residence find these building appalling, yet the city keeps building them. Why? Do we no longer count? Is just about what developers want? We need to take our city back from the incumbents who clearly no longer represent us.

Rod Johnson

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 9:20 p.m.

The city doesn't keep on building them. Developers do, which is their right under the law. If your problem is that you disagree with the zoning, then talk about that. If the majority of residents wants things to be differently, why don't they make their views known? (Griping in the comments section here doesn't count.)


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:02 p.m.

Tacky, appalling, bad impact, eroding of the standard of living or not, if it is full that indicates it is popular, successful and preferable to other options maybe farther away. What is sad is that rents are so high. In eight months it is going to interesting to see what it looks like inside.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

I agree, your case is lost on me. Where is the degradation? It's not like they put up a low-quality, low-chance-of-upkeep slum. It's not like they razed anything historic building or any ecosystem to build it. For goodness sakes, it's got the fugly University tower on one side of it, fraternities on another side, and the forest parking ramp on the other. And no, I'm not biased. I wouldn't dream of taking my money there when I could get so much more for the same $ a few blocks away. But really, if anything, it's making the area nicer.

Wolf's Bane

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 11:49 p.m.

My case is lost on you two. I am neither jealous ( I own two beautiful houses) nor upset about the South University being further degraded (I live far away from THAT mess). But, as a tax paying property owner, you better believe that I count and you can bet your bottom dollar I will vote! Campus Corner started as a really sharp brick building prior to its demise. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Ta.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

johnnya2 - overall, pretty well put. I just want to emphasize a couple points: The South U area is nothing but UNDERGRADVILLE. In my opinion, adding more student housing there is the best thing to do - at least it's better than disrupting actual neighborhoods. As far as the building lacking aesthetic, I still have no idea what people are talking about. What do people expect? I really think that a lot of complaints about this type of housing come from a place of jealousy.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

Give me a break. The "aesthetic" of Campus Corners was hardly something anybody wrote home about., it was a party store plain and simple. The fact that you have some nostalgic feelings for it means nothing. As for what the "residents" think, I wonder how much you care what your neighbors think of the color of your front door or the "style" of your home. See that is the thing, YOU and the rest of your busy body neighbors do not own the property. So you are correct, YOU DO NOT COUNT. The OWNER of the property should be able to build what they want as long as they stick to codes.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 12:58 p.m.

Are there restrictions to renting an apartment there? Being old I am curious. Can three or four people live there. Is it okay to sublet?

Jake C

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:38 p.m.

Of course there's restrictions. The key one being that each bed/lease space is intended for a single individual, which rules out girlfriends, spouses, children, etc. This is pretty common for any apartment rented primarily to students. Since the landlord of this property treats the bedrooms as basically interchangeable, they know no 18-year-old students wants to share a 4-bedroom apartment with a 40-year old man & wife & their two kids crammed into one bedroom, and they've found a legal way to ensure that.

Jim Mulchay

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

If you really want feedback you'll need to do followup articles in 4 or 5 years - right now it is brand new, fresh and different. What will it be like in 2016? Will maintenance be good, tenants happy and safe, businesses better off then they were in the area?


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

I would be curious as well. When I was an undergrad a few years ago at the University of Minnesota, I lived in an equivalent (new, "upscale", expensive) student apartment for a year. The business plan must not have worked for them, as they folded and ended up selling the building to the University of Minnesota...

Paula Gardner

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

The rent rages from $975 to $1,745. Sorry for the omission - it was included in this story as the building opened (which includes a video of the apartments if you're curious about the apartments).


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 3:37 a.m.

I think that's the cost per person/bed with the common areas (kitchen, etc.) being shared by others (4 total residents, I think).


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : midnight

Actually the most you can pay appears to be $1839/month. For the $1,789-$1,839 price range, you get your very own 450 square foot studio. Lol. Yes, that's a living space of about 21' x 21'. Sorry though, they are all already leased out. Also, sorry for my tone, but I'm blown away by the fact that a 450 sq ft studio is literally 2x the price of the rent for my 900 sq ft, 2-bed duplex in Kerrytown, 3 blocks from Zingerman's and a 10-minute walk from campus. Yea, I get the idea of it being new and excellent location, but still...

say it plain

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

that's per BED (PERSON), as seems to be the way to report rents when it's for students...I guess since these are meant for groups of unrelated (semi-)adults they write up leases per BED? Anyway, yeah, no bargains to be had in that area lol...


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

Is that per unit, or per resident? $1745 per month for 6 bedrooms sounds like a bargain, if that's what it is.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

I'm curious--what's the rent in this joint? The only mention of price was that it's overpriced. Come on, it can't be a secret, readers want to know!


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 10:41 p.m.

Not to mention, that $975 is not for a whole apartment. That is for a single bedroom in a multiple bedroom apartment. Ridiculous.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

Thanks Eileen I was wondering the same thing. Kyle, any story about a rental unit should have the rent costs near the beginning of the story, particularly in a city known for its high cost of living. For that rent you can buy a very nice house in Dexter.

Kyle Mattson

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

Hi Eileen, per Lizzy's report last week the rent runs from $975 to $1,745 per person.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 10:56 a.m.

Now will someone redo U Towers?


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 1:18 a.m.

How much the rent is in the U tower?


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

Similar to my initial reaction; Why would someone refer to this as an "eyesore"? Especially compared to university towers, which is right across the street! If anything, it diffuses the ugliness of university towers


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

That place is pretty flimsy (I lived there for a year in school). It's not a matter of simple renovation...It needs to be razed.