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Posted on Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Upland Green owners plan to build 2nd apartment building in north Ann Arbor

By Laura Blodgett


A rendering of the apartment building planned for the Upland Green property in Ann Arbor, off of Plymouth Road near Murfin.

From Damian Farrell Design Group

The owners of Upland Green, the mixed-use building at 1771 Plymouth Road across from University of Michigan’s North Campus, are planning to construct a second residential building on the property.

“The site plan has been approved and we are shooting for construction to start Aug. 1,” says Bill Conlin, one of the project's original developers.

The second building was approved as part of the original site plan when Upland Green was designed as a mix of condominiums and retail spaces several years ago before the real estate market crashed. When those plans stalled due to financing issues, BSG Management Co. of New Jersey acquired the building in late 2009 and renewed efforts to complete it, shifting the residential space to rentals.

The loft-style apartments filled up quickly when they became available last spring, and currently maintain 100 percent occupancy at rates from $900 to $2,200 per unit. Meanwhile, retail tenants include Panera, Qdoba and Great Plains Burgers.

Although no plans were in place to construct the second building, known as building A, the development team immediately began discussing the possibility when they realized how well the apartments were received, especially by young professionals.

“Because of the market, everyone assumed that that building would be on hold indefinitely, but we seem to have found a little niche for that kind of rental,” said architect Damian Farrell, principal of Damian Farrell Design Group, who is leading the effort.

The 30-unit building will be made up solely of four studios and 26 one-bedroom units, which is what the development team found rented well.


The property where the second phase of Upland Green will be built.

Laura Blodgett | For

The new rectangular-shaped building, which is 60 feet deep by 184 feet wide, will be located at the north end of the existing parking lot, currently an open grassy area. Like the first one, the building will be raised to allow for parking underneath but no retail space is planned.

“The original plan was to have parking below grade but it was agreed by everyone involved that retail that far off the street was not a smart move, especially in this economy,” says Farrell.

“Retailers we talked to were concerned about the lack of visibility. People would have to know you are there since they would have no frontage of the street whatsoever.”

Farrell says that the decision was made to raise the building, “which also offers a slightly nicer view for the apartments so they are not looking directly into the grills of the cars in the parking lot.”

Materials, such as the brick color and limestone detailing, will be similar. One difference will be the porch design, which will project out of the building instead of being cut out of the main building like the first one.

“One of the challenges when you cut an outdoor space into the building is handling the storm build-up and draining it, so I think it is a better architectural solution to go outward,” says Farrell. “It also gave us a much larger footprint because of not cutting into the living space.”

The interior “soft loft” layout will remain the same.

“The interior design seemed to be received pretty well, and that’s what contributed to it leasing so successfully,” says Farrell. “I’m confident that taking the same ideas into these units will have similar results.”

The project is currently in the funding cycle now and, if successful, will need to undergo an administrative amendment to eliminate the retail and underground parking that was originally approved.

“Luckily that would not have to go through the full planning cycle, so it’s quite feasible that we could start construction between August and October,” says Farrell.

“With a 10- to 12-month construction period, it could be available to rent sometime mid- to late summer next year.”


David Paris

Sat, Mar 26, 2011 : 3:45 p.m.

I really like the orange Mustang in the picture, it really adds to the aesthetics of the apartment building, which, as it stands, has virtually none. Nice job BSG!

Joel Batterman

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

It should be noted that one of the biggest benefits to this location is easy access to the #2 (Plymouth) bus line, which, along with the #4 to Ypsilanti, is the most frequent in the AATA system. Farrell's Plymouth Green retail/housing is also located along Plymouth.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 12:35 p.m.

As I recall Upland Green remained unoccupied for several years after construction. I was not surprised as the building is simple and unattractive and placed on a busy main street next to a gasoline station. However, as I understand, BSG Management bought the building at a greatly reduced price from its assessed valuation and thus was able to reduce rental prices. Nevertheless, occupancy of the building was slower than the article's author states from my observations as I frequently drove by it. Upland Greens II does not have an improved appearance according to the drawing with the article. Can you imagine sitting on the little porch outside your apartment and enjoying the splendid view of a large parking lot and the back of Upland Greens I? Yet I imagine that the apartments will be eventually be rented if rental prices are reasonable. Unfortunately, the cost for construction will far exceed the costs that BSG Management paid for the original financially distressed Upland Green. Therefore, I do not know if the developer will be able to rent units for a profit. Maybe BSG Management will be given a second chance and will purchase Upland Greens for half-price, which will allow the rental prices to be reduced while still providing a profit. Deja vu anyone? And, by the way, I am pleased that Upton Greens II will be built outside of the DDA's jurisdiction otherwise the developer may demand that the DDA issue another bond to finance the subterranean parking lot which will put the DDA in more dire financial condition than it is facing now.