You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Unfinished West Towne Condominium project in Ann Arbor revived under new owners

By Lizzy Alfs


A rendering of the proposed Blue Heron Pond development, which is proposed for the unfinished West Towne Condos property in Ann Arbor.

Rendering from architect Brad Moore

The unfinished West Towne Condominiums project in Ann Arbor is being revived — with a new name and altered plans — after a local building company purchased the property last year.

One building stands on the property, located on the northwest corner of West Liberty and South Maple streets, where developer Michael Concannon proposed an eight-building, 87-unit condo development in 2005.

Financing issues and the economic downturn stalled the project, and then lender Fifth Third Bank sold the loan to Ann Arbor-based Norfolk Development Co., who foreclosed on the note last year. The site plan for the original project has expired.


Norfolk Development Co. wants to finish building on the property on West Liberty and South Maple streets in Ann Arbor.

Melanie Maxwell |

Since Norfolk purchased the property, it has made aesthetic improvements, turned the condos into rentals and leased nine out of the 11 units. It also changed the name from West Towne Condos to Blue Heron Pond.

Now, the company is seeking city approval to finish building on the property.

The group wants to pare down Concannon’s original plans: taking the 87 units down to 65, and decreasing the building footprints in an effort to provide more parking and open space. Each unit would also have an attached garage.

“We didn’t think that there was appropriate space for accessory parking on site…it was too dense of a use,” said Jim Franke of Norfolk Development Co.

Instead of condos, the development, if approved, would consist of mostly two and three bedroom rentals, according to city documents. Franke said rents would range from $1,500 to $1,800 per unit, which is the price range of the existing units.

He said the company has had success with leasing nine of the existing 11 units on the site, leading him to believe there is additional demand in the market.

“We have been extremely successful or lucky in getting rentals, or tenants, without any marketing at all,” he said. “We think the demand is very high.”

The project’s architect is Brad Moore of J Bradley Moore & Associates.

There will be a citizens participation meeting for the project from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 15 at Weber’s Inn Hotel on Jackson Road, during which the design team will solicit feedback and answer questions from neighboring residents. A revised site plan will then be submitted to the city and the plans will go before Ann Arbor’s Planning Commission and City Council.

Norfolk has developed several residential projects in Washtenaw County, including Summerfield Glen, located just to the west on Liberty. It also has projects in Alabama and Tennessee.

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



Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 5:08 a.m.

Is anyone worried about Craig Schubiner's ability or desire to complete Packard Mall after his dismal record with Bloomfield Park Plaza? While financing for the $48.2 million dollar project has not yet been secured and faces an October 18th deadline, City Council and Washtenaw County along with other agencies continue to throw money at the development. The Department of Environmental Quality is granting it $1 million. The Michigan Economic Growth Authority approved a plan to capture $2 million in local and school taxes for the redevelopment of the former Georgetown Mall property. Meanwhile, the Ann Arbor City Council and the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners approved $5.8 million in tax-increment financing assistance for the developer of the Packard Mall project. Those citizens living in the Georgetown Mall area should be concerned that completion of Packard Mall is not assured nor is its subsequent economic success. By giving away TIF that should accrue upon completion of construction the City may not achieve any financial benefits from the project and Packard Mall risks becoming a white elephant.


Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 11:25 p.m.

Yep. All that green investor tape from the unregulated 00's killed the original project. If the new developer thought that it was an unworkable albatross and had to downsize it, then who in 2005 on City Coucil and Planning Committee thought the condo plan was so worthy of approval to begin with? Those turkeys are all gone now, right?

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

I am encouraged by the overall description of the project (not prejudging the site plan and design, which the nearby neighbors will help to fine-tune). Moderately-priced rentals like this are what we need, not speculative condo projects. It looks as though the new owners intend to operate the complex. Ironically, the rent is not much higher than one bedroom in some of those student high-rise projects. One of those has already changed hands, going to a company that promises to milk as much in rental income as possible from the occupants. This looks like a real community-building project.

Mike D.

Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

Isn't "milking as much rental income as possible from the occupants" the very premise of capitalism? These developers would be insane to charge $0.01 less than the market will bear. Given the shoddy construction and poor design of these buildings, there will be a relatively short window of opportunity to market them as premium rentals and recoup the construction investment. I really can't feel too badly for the students; most move every year anyhow, and they have many choices. There's no monopoly or unfair market force forcing them to pay more than they can afford. If they feel they are getting "milked," they can simply decline to renew their leases.


Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

Several others - poor old Concannon just can't do it right anywhere! And, he is a real estate attorney to boot!

Elaine F. Owsley

Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

Wouldn't you think the city would be extra cautious about letting him get permits to do anything, by now?


Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

Thank goodness this site is finally moving forward. The original project was the wrong concept, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. This revival offers some hope for the site. Let's hope the details sort out as well....


Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

We need to study this for several years and bog the developer down with "Red Tape". This way, the prices will be extremely high and hardly anybody could afford to rent there!

Ron Granger

Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

Did you read the article - they have bogged themselves down just fine. And, pricing does not work that way.

Linda Peck

Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

I like the public meeting concept for input. This is a good direction for community building. The site is looking better than it did, that is for sure.

Elaine F. Owsley

Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.

This is not the first Concannon project to have problems. Haven't there been at least two others?

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 3 p.m.

The Gallery at the site of the old Greek Orthodox church on N. Main (just sold to Tom Fitzsimmons for a modest condo project) was another one.

Tony Livingston

Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

There was the big hole in the ground in Saline, the Dakota buidling, and this condo project. Maybe more, who knows.