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Posted on Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 4:39 p.m.

Diverse residential neighborhoods, Burns Park, the Big House and The Arb are mainstays of Central Ann Arbor

By Shelley Daily


Melanie Maxwell |

Central Ann Arbor’s charming old neighborhoods and proximity to the University of Michigan and downtown make it an area steeped in beauty and tradition. Although some of the city’s most expensive real estate is located here, the area also has several pockets of more modestly priced neighborhoods.

Bordered by the U-M Medical Center and the Huron River to the north, the central area stretches south and east from U-M Central Campus to US-23 and Arborland Mall. This area is largely residential with a mix of student housing, single-family homes, condos, and apartments. Businesses are located along South Industrial Parkway, Packard Road, and East Stadium Boulevard. As Stadium becomes Washtenaw Avenue to the east, shopping centers and strip malls offer bigger box stores.

The central area’s 42,500 residents have a median age of 23. Five public elementary schools serve families in this area: Allen, Angell, Burns Park, Pittsfield, and Pattengill. Tappan Middle School and Community High School also are located in central Ann Arbor.

In 1910, the city purchased what were then the county fairgrounds close to the U-M campus. The fairgrounds became Burns Park, which is in the heart of an old neighborhood by the same name. The park, adjacent to Burns Park Elementary School, is a favorite gathering spot, and the surrounding tree-lined streets provide a brilliant fall color display. Packard Road divides Burns Park into “upper” and “lower” sides. Upper Burns Park turns into the secluded Ives Woods area to the north, with huge old homes and gated mansions on wooded lots.

U-M’s Nichols Arboretum — known as the “Arb” — is a sanctuary in the city just east of the medical center. Visitors can meander the 123 acres of rolling hills, valleys, prairie, forests, gardens and trails that lead to the Huron River. This natural oasis backs up to 1920s storybook Tudor homes in areas of the exclusive Geddes Heights and Geddes neighborhoods. Another exclusive neighborhood to the southeast is Ann Arbor Hills, with custom-designed dream homes on long stretches of hilly roads.

Green space in the central area includes the 140-acre County Farm Park, located behind the county’s Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center, where hikers and bikers enjoy the trails. Farther northeast, along Huron Parkway, is the city’s 18-hole Huron Hills Golf Course. It offers scenic views of the Huron River at its high points, and when snow covers the course in winter, the ninth hole is reserved for sledding.

Editor's Note: This biography was last updated in February 2010.

Shelley Daily is a freelance writer who lives in Ann Arbor.

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