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Posted on Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Tour Ann Arbor's lavish new 606-bed student high-rise on South University

By Lizzy Alfs

Landmark — the new student high-rise on Ann Arbor’s South University Avenue — was bustling with activity on Tuesday as construction crews, developers and building inspectors worked to get the high-rise move-in ready.

Mattresses were being hauled in as crews assembled furniture, poured concrete for the outdoor deck, decorated and made small finishing touches.

Hundreds of University of Michigan students plan to move into the 14-story building starting at noon Thursday.

“It really feels great to walk through a building that has been completed; to have it come together is fabulous,” said Ron Hughes, the Oakland County developer who proposed the housing project for the site more than four years ago. The property had been home to retailers like Village Corner and the former Bagel Factory.

Of the building’s 606 bedrooms — which range from studio units to six-bedrooms — 605 are occupied, according to JJ Smith, executive vice president of development and construction for Landmark property owner Campus Acquisitions.

He said all of the occupants are University of Michigan students and 50 percent are from out-of-state.

Rent at the high-rise ranges from $975 to $1,745.

Along with the convenient location, security features and 140 underground parking spaces, tenants are dishing out the big bucks for the building’s lavish amenities.

Landmark — similar to Ann Arbor’s other new student housing developments — offers fully furnished units, in-room washers and dryers and high-speed Internet and cable.

It has 27-inch flat-screen TVs in each bedroom, Tempur-Pedic mattresses in the top floor units and some outdoor patios.

The eighth floor of the building is known as the “scholarly floor” — intended for graduate students or tenants who want a quieter atmosphere.

The first-floor of the building has four retail tenants, including 7-Eleven, Tim Hortons and No Thai!. Smith said a deal is being negotiated for the final space.

The second floor of Landmark is dedicated to shared amenities: a spa room with a sauna, two tanning beds and a massage room; pool table and shuffleboard room; movie theater with Xbox; state-of-the-art fitness center; yoga, spinning and Pilates studio; business and research center with computers; and an outdoor deck with a BBQ, fire pit, bean bag toss, outdoor TV and a 40-person hot tub.

“Instead of the original plan for two hot tubs, we’re doing a huge hot tub instead,” Smith said. “We have heat lamps so people can use the hot tub in the winter and there will be a canopy structure over it.”

He added: “We took precautions (on the outdoor deck) by raising the railing, we added (one more) staircase than required so, in the event of an emergency, there are three exits.”

Ten resident advisors live and work in the building, there are surveillance cameras and the entire building is under security, Smith said.

He said all of these amenities, along with Landmark’s marketing techniques, made the building popular among students despite competition in the rental market.

The 200-bed Zaragon West and 144-bed City Place also opened this fall. Both are high-end developments with similar rent ranges.

“I think, right now, we’ve shown there is a demand for this,” Smith said. “I don’t think we’d be proposing four or six more of these in town…but for the next few years, I think we’ll see these buildings continue to get filled.”

He continued: “If there are more buildings proposed, it could start to tip the scale, and we’ll see a large reduction in rents across the board.”

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



Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

Unbelievable. And we wonder why the upcoming generation has an attitude of entitlement.

Silly Head

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

I hope that price includes maid services.

say it plain

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

Now *that* would be money that I, if I were a wealthy parent looking for ways to spent money on my college kid lol, would be happy to spend! Some maid service should market themselves to the developers as an optional add-on! Heck, better for the health and welfare of the residents than pilates or treadmills, I'm guessing, especially given the compromised immune systems college students have with their lifestyles! Probably a number of the kids whose parents are shelling out that kind of rent don't require their preciouses to clean their own rooms or wash their dishes and bathtubs, ya know ;-)

Stuart Brown

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 2:39 a.m.

Apparently, this project cost about $85 million or about $140K per bed; contrast this with the $100K per bed to rehab Alice Lloyd hall. In other words, UofM almost spent the same amount per bed to rehab a lousy dorm as a private developer spent to build new luxury housing. With costs like this, it is clear that students who live in UofM dorms are paying for luxury housing but getting spartan accommodations instead. What a crock! The not-for-profit UofM will charge about what luxury apartments charge for a crappy dorm (and the luxury apartments pay local property taxes while the dorms pay none.)

Stuart Brown

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 2:22 a.m.

kathryn, Did you not see the various articles on that have mentioned that Alice Lloyd Hall has 560 beds and the rehab will cost $56 million or $100K per bed?

say it plain

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

It's interesting that the U paid so much for upgrading Alice Lloyd...probably to keep up with the other schools that market themselves to wealthy families, this is a big trend right now. It would be better if they would build more capacity dorm-wise, because I agree with @mtlaurel that dorm living is much preferable for building community than this apt model.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

Can you provide a source for "$100K per bed" for the Alice Lloyd rehab?


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

Perhaps they could have done a modest upgrade of the dorms. As a freshman in a triple dorm room on the "Hill"-I wasn't bothered a know what "dorm" living is,basically. the reward is that you're living amidst your peers,just down the hall-eat/converse/study/party/ together. One's dorm room door was open in the evenings and the mixing and mingling was a part of the dorm experience. Why the progression to students in locked buildings in pseudo apt style "units"-it's unclear except that they have the money to pay for it so they are being built. [ upperclassmen or grad students?] The dorm has it's place for incoming students-they probably needed a little upgrading-not sure about the need for the large dollar figure,but the dorm concept for many freshmen is an appropiate fit.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 1:44 a.m.

I realize that many University of Michigan residents come from extremely wealthy families, many of which pay their children's way through college, but that rent is obscene even for Ann Arbor. That's why the city is made up of nothing but yuppies and students...everyone else is being driven out by the cost of living.


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

@ Woman in Ypsilanti, agreed! I, too, am a woman of Ypsilanti. Ann Arbor, no longer.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 5:14 p.m.

Don't worry, Ypsilanti is still cool.

say it plain

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

Ah, yes @widmer, about the Dairy donuts, but too soon the lovely old Dairy will be (still? I hope so!) existing in the shadow of another new "luxury" housing complex, meant this time for "young professionals". I don't quite understand what is happening to Ann Arbor, and if the place can remain a pleasant community to live in for anyone different from the demo currently being catered to...I guess time will tell! It's surely starting to feel more and more devoid of "genuine" or at all homey and varied. I am not too confident that the increase in numbers of rentals will actually bring down prices much at all, at least in central locations, and the high rents for retail will keep up the proliferation of chains with deep pockets that can take losses if need be and the lack of anything 'interesting' and different. We shall see, I suppose!


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 1:56 a.m.

Hey man, not all's lost. You can still get a dozen mixed donuts at the Washtenaw Dairy for $6.50


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 1:48 a.m.

*Students, not residents

Tony Livingston

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 10:57 p.m.

Obviously, there is a big market for high end student housing. But, I can personally attest to the fact that there is also a very strong market for low end student housing. I rent rooms to male college students. It is clean, quiet, convenient but also very basic. All of the rooms stay rented all of the time.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 9:12 p.m.

I was involved with building new student housing near South U a few years back. After 2 months it looked like a slum project. These students will treat this bldg like a barn! Most of them may be from "high class" families. BUT they will act like pigs. I challenge Lizzy to do a follow up story the 1st of the year with photos.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 1:01 a.m.

This is a large building, jcj - it might actually take them a couple of years to trash it - it should still look ok by the first of the year, so I'd say Lizzie should do a two year follow-up, as well.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 9:28 p.m.

Challenge accepted.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

You have to love the holier than thou judgments made about where 40,000 young adults choose to live while in Ann Arbor, whether it's in dorms, older apartments, new apartments, high rises, low rises, etc. They are paying the rent - the State is not paying $1 towards housing, so it's really nobody's business where the students choose to live or what amenities they have, just as it isn't their business what they eat or drink, what they drive or don't drive, spend or don't spend, plan to study, who they sleep with or don't. They are adults, period. Presumably they have the wisdom of their parents still ringing in their ears , and most likely had them assist in their moves here! So, rather than worrying about our new neighbors, how about going back to worrying about your own family and stop making judgments about everyone else?


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

Many students receive some form of federally funded and/or guaranteed financial aid. Ultimately, this comes from taxpayers, so those of us who pay taxes are subsidizing not only student profligacy, but the student loan bubble, as well. So, in reality, the State (meaning the taxpayer) is paying a great many dollars towards housing. To say otherwise is simply incorrect. They also pay when 20% or so of these loans end-up defaulting, because many grads simply can't find jobs - because there are too many of them, except for the ones really needed. Anyone receiving financial aid at Michigan is getting tax dollars somewhere along the line.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

The $273 million from the State is NOT for Housing. Speak from knowledge, not from lack of. How do you know these are "juvenile delinquents"? I entered graduate school in my mid-20's after having worked full-time to put myself through my undergraduate program in the evenings. How do you know that parents are paying for this rent? That the ADULTS themselves aren't working as my nieces and nephews are, or as I did, to put themselves through school? Judgements. You are making Judgements and then blithely saying it's ok to slam all of these adults who are contributing to our community. ROFL, I agree. Get a grip - quit generalizing an entire population with your own preconceived biases.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 10:52 a.m.

Sparty: "Freedom" in America does not mean "freedom from judgement," just as "freedom of speech" does not mean "freedom from the consequence of speech." Get a grip.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 11:34 p.m.

THE STATE >.TAXPAYER is Paying $ 273 000 000 to U of M .Taken from the K-12 children!


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 9:16 p.m.

"They are adults, period. They may be adults in terms of age. BUT most of them are juvenile delinquents in terms of respect for property their parents rent for them! I have seen it 1st hand.

say it plain

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

well, actually, we are all paying in some ways for the bubble of college costs in this nation. You gotta love the comments about comments lol, especially when they don't really reflect understanding of the ways in which the expenditures effect the community within which they are made ;-)


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

My chief concern is that if ANY of these students are getting student loans (I'd be surprised if many of them aren't) then luxury accommodations are not really something to go into greater debt over. Couldn't something less expensive be developed? I'm no fan of a nanny-state and people must make their own decisions, but if I were an out-of-state parent watching my child rack up student loans, I'd be pretty peeved that more affordable options weren't available.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.

Not to worry these accommodations will NOT be luxurious in a couple months!


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

I would definitely agree that student loans should not be used for luxury expenditures. The only problem when it comes to enforcing this is the subjective definition of what qualifies as luxury. The way the government manages this is by calculating an appropriate estimated cost of living, and not providing loans which exceed this amount. This still leaves room for poor stewardship, as students can still take out loans while receiving money from parents, and there is no system in place to track where the loan money is really going.

say it plain

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

To me the most interesting aspect of this article is the comment from Mr. Smith of Landmark developers regarding market and rates... If demand is so high that they can charge those sorts of obscenely high rents, then we need more student-oriented buildings. I have been unhappy to see the construction of student-tower after student-tower, but if creating even more supply will reduce rents so that a more varied crew of folks can afford to live and work and study in downtown Ann Arbor, then let's build baby build! I find it annoying that a couple people (and I mean that in the corporate sense) can gouge the populace because apparently market needs aren't being served. If the UM won't provide for their students, then let the for-profit market, and let it do so without constraint so that affordability is enhanced. Tip those scales, give students choices, someone needs to come in with less silly over-amenitizing and skip the granite and the hot tubs but keep the study areas and the decent lighting and so on, making it easier for kids of *all* incomes to live conveniently and happily while at UM! Too bad the UM has been so behind in getting decent dorms for their students, which is now for better or worse a consideration for folks when they decide where they want to go to school. Dorms can allow students to have a more 'egalitarian' experience at college, while this kind of luxury-at-a-price scene just keeps everyone income-segregated, sigh...

Linda Peck

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

I would prefer a small apartment in an old house.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

The "tolerant" folks on seem to spend a lot of time worrying about where other people live and what they do with their own money.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

I guess the question is how these high prices compare to the price of living in UM dorms. Also, it's not clear how the multi-bedroom apartments work. So, a $1745 rent is for a 6 bedroom apartment? Is that divided by 6 = $290? If so, that's pretty cheap given the amenities compared to renting a 6 bedroom house somewhere near campus that is run down. 606 bedrooms and 140 parking spaces......hmmm. Where does everyone else park?


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 3:42 a.m.

Thanks for clarifying the high rents PER BED. These are obscene rents for A2.

say it plain

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 4:36 p.m.

Exactly @simone66! It's ridiculous. This is not NYC, but of course such rents would hardly faze NYers, who do make up a large-ish group of out-of-state UMers. If developers can really get 1000 to 1500 a BED in Ann Arbor, for college kids, there is something. clearly. wrong. No?!


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

No, in the six bedroom apts, the rent for EACH bed can range from $950 to $1750. Basically, the monthly rent for an apt # starts off around at least $4k a month. Hardly cheap.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

What these photos don't show...the bedrooms aren't too homey, like prison cells, very small with painted concrete ceilings. Yet most rooms have an incredible view of town. At the top floors, looking east, you can see the setting Sun reflecting off the Ren Cen. To the south west, The big house's block M dominates. All and all a pretty neat building. Students will do what they do best though...destroy it!


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

In the east, it would have to be the Sun would have be rising, not setting.

Paula Gardner

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

Just FYI, the video does capture some of what you're saying about the bedrooms.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

The only things that impress me are the kitchen and work out space. Even those, but mostly everything else, seems rather corporate/spartan. It does not look very homey or inviting to me.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

For a mouse you are rather picky.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

Yea it really looks like they took a cue from the decor of the Zaragon Place... Great to take pictures of, but not so great to live in IMO...


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

Good luck with this business model. I'll be interesting to see how it plays out.

say it plain

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

To me the question about the 'business model' is all about costs versus income. How much money did this place cost to construct, how much will it cost to maintain? Seems like unless they spent a ton, it might be easy to recoup and profit with such obscene rents, no?


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

Let's get an occupy movement together and camp out on in front of their building. Only the rich can afford to go tu UM.............

Ron Granger

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

But who will be the first to puke in the elevator after a night of torrid drinking?

Ron Granger

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

Yeah, well, Mohawk... Talk is cheap! I'll take that challenge. What are you gonna drink to make it happen? Dominick's Sangria produces righteous stains. Don't ask me how I know. So, look for the Granger stains. They'll be pink. They better have scotchguard.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.


jene colvin

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

Does anyone have plans to build more affordable housing for students?

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

"Let Them Eat Cake"


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

Not unless you have plans to pay more taxes.............


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

I think that the way it works is the students that can afford this will move from their current digs creating empty units that need to be refilled. If that drives a surplus of units in the market the prices will come down.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

I'm glad to see they put what look like study stations in the building - very appropriate for student housing - granite countertops not so much


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

Keep on Building in downtown Ann Arbor!


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

Wow, this place is almost too nice for students. Not to knock the kids, I was a UM student at one time too, but it really is a tad bit too much. But then again, it's for the rick kids whose parents will happily pay these outrageous rents. And regarding the communal hot tub. No comment.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

I forgot to add that I think it's very cool to have the 8th floor exclusively for non-traditional student types, quieter for graduates and non-student population. I wonder if some of the displaced law students will be housed there.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 11:34 a.m.

Wow I want to cook in that kitchen. Call me jelly.... Also, it would be great if we could avoid another barrage of comments that are to the effect of "young people don't deserve nice things by virtue of their age or fact that they haven't had to work to achieve these things"


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 2 p.m.

So you are concerned that young people, by being given nice things, do not develop an intrinsic motivation to work toward acquiring more nice things later in life. Why do you care if they do not develop this motivation? Is it because you want to see them becoming contributing members of society? Are you concerned that having grown up with BMWs, they will inevitably end up on welfare, and become a drain on society? I'm just trying to understand the position that you defend.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

Why shouldn't we engage in the sort of commentary you've warned against? The desire to earn nicer things - including a nicer apartment, nicer clothes, a nicer car, are great motivations in school to do well, graduate and seek out the best kind of job you can get. Certainly material desires aren't the only motivations in life, but they remain motivations nonetheless. What motivation is there for a student who's been given a $1,500 apartment, a BMW, and a monthly entertainment stipend?

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 11:30 a.m.

Rent at the high-rise ranges from $975 to $1,745. Must be for the 1%ers


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 5 p.m.

Have you looked at what UM charges for dorm rooms? $12906 for 8 months works out to $1600 / month. That does include food, but if $975/month is only for a '1%er' who is $1600 month in room & board for?


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

Could be. Might be some of those kids that rack up $100,000 in student loans too. Sigh.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 10:56 a.m.

Is the 40-person hot tub going to be on nonstop? WIll one or two people be using that? Seems like a few separate ones would have saved a lot of energy. Don't all these guys go for LEED certification or whatever these days? Or does that only apply to walls, roof, and windows? Agree w/ GoNavy on the digs, but it's also more rent than I paid until I was out of college for quite some time too. Let's hope the kids and/or parents paying that much have had some time maturing; be a shame if all that expensive equipment and luxury fixtures got all beat down in one semester.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

Regardless of size, any hot tubs would be heated non-stop. It takes to long to heat the tub of water for it to be usable otherwise; plus you can't have the water actually freezing in the winter. Given that, splitting a similar volume of water into several smaller tubs would mean a greater total surface area (including the walls of the tub), which means greater heat loss, which means more total energy to heat.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

RUKiddingMe- I'm pretty confident that all of these new places will look like total ratholes within the span of three years. Students just don't feel the need to take care of anything. Parents are paying the rent, parents will cover the security deposit, parents will pay for anything broken. What's holding anybody back? I've seen student dorm rooms that are so disgusting I had to hold back the vomit. Students (through the years - not just "these" students) are a lot like locusts. They come in, use things up, and move on.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 11:16 a.m.

I have 2900 square feet and 4 acres, and my mortgage is cheaper than a studio there.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 10:46 a.m.

These are better digs than anything I lived in until I had been out of college and in the workforce for years.


Wed, Aug 29, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

Right? Would love to see how the "other half" lives for awhile!