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Posted on Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Plans approved to bring 53 new apartments to Ann Arbor's west side

By Ryan J. Stanton

Nine buildings containing 53 new apartments are slated for construction at the northwest corner of West Liberty Street and South Maple Road in Ann Arbor.

The Ann Arbor City Council gave final approval to the Blue Heron Pond project site plan for 2536 W. Liberty St. at its meeting Monday night.

The 7.8-acre site previously was planned as the 87-unit West Towne Condominiums project and was approved in 2005, but those plans expired in 2008.


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

Ann Arbor-based Norfolk Development Co. now wants to finish building a scaled-back version of the project, which is being called Blue Heron Pond. Instead of condos, the development is expected to consist mostly of two- and three-bedroom rentals.

Jim Franke of Norfolk Development Co. previously stated rents would range from $1,500 to $1,800 per unit, which is the price range of the existing units.

An 11-unit apartment building stands on the property where developer Michael Concannon originally proposed an eight-building condo development in 2005.

Financing issues and the economic downturn stalled the project, and then lender Fifth Third Bank sold the loan to Norfolk. The existing building on the site was constructed in 2006 and was vacant until last spring when the new owner purchased the property.

Norfolk received approval from the council to construct 53 additional apartment units for a total of 64 units on the site, a reduction from the 87 units previously approved.

The estimated cost of construction is $4.2 million.


City of Ann Arbor

The nine new buildings proposed will be located around a wetland and four of them will front on West Liberty Street.

The project is proposed to be phased, with the four units along Liberty and associated parking constructed first, and the remaining five buildings constructed in the second phase.

The units will range in size from 980 to 2,577 square feet.

Each unit will have a one-car attached garage and interior bicycle parking. There will be a total of 36 surface parking spaces distributed in nine small parking lots on the site.

The project's architect, Brad Moore of J Bradley Moore & Associates, told city officials Monday night the project team had met with neighbors and addressed all of their concerns. According to Moore, the new plan is less intensive, buildings have been downsized and open space has been increased.

City Planner Matt Kowalski noted the city code requires a minimum of 55 percent useable open space, and a minimum of 65 percent useable open space is proposed.

Moore said the project is expected to start in the spring with the buildings that front on Liberty, and it is anticipated that all the buildings would be finished in 15 to 18 months.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

fairly high end.good luck with that.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 6:51 p.m.

I'm a renter not very far away from that site, and I do believe those rents are WAY out of scale, especially for that neighborhood. Even the student population is going to be tapped out at some point. Look at all the condos and apartments that are right by campus. And @ Amy Biolchini, I sure would like to know where there are good 2 and 3 bedroom apartments that are renting for $800.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 10:50 p.m.

I have been looking all over Ann Arbor: $800 might get you a room in a house or a 300 SF "efficiency."


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 6:35 p.m.

Oh great! More UGLY condos!!

Ryan Martin

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 6:34 p.m.

Step 1 to building Blue Heron Pond: Bulldoze pond Step 2: Name development after what used to be there.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 10:48 p.m.

Step 3: Create a bird sanctuary on what is left of the open space, surrounded by an 8 ft ht fence, and offer premium memberships for bird watching at $1000/year to help pay off the construction loan. But seriously folks, $1500/mo for 980 SF, plus utilties and god knows what else? Unfortunately, charging $1.66 - $2.00 per SF is the norm in A2. I had to move to Pinckney to find a place I could afford and have a dog with a yard and 2 actual bedrooms.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

The rent does sound high, but I haven't looked at rents in years. Think about what you could do on foot from this location. If you worked downtown you could take the bus, or take it down for dinner or drinks. You could walk to Kroger for groceries, across the street for excellent Mexican, Barry Bagel or Bell's on the weekends, the preschool is kitty corner from there. It's a hop skip and a jump to get on 94. Lots to like about the location.

say it plain

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

I agree about the location having some definite perks. I still think the rents are overly optimistic, but a developer can dream, can't he? After all, the news outlets keep telling us how rents are going up, so we just have to keep paying them if we want to live in certain places. Those numbers aren't very different to the price of buying similar places near there, but, right now, buying is not a possibility or a desirability to a lot of people.

Amy Biolchini

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

These new condos look very attractive -- and have a considerable number of amenities -- but I feel as though the market for professionals looking to rent an Ann Arbor apartment in the $800/mo. range is very narrow. It seems as though developers in Ann Arbor are targeting the student market and those that are in a slightly higher income bracket than those whose budget fits an $800/mo. rent.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

$800.00 in Ann Arbor?? maybe some of the walkups on or near the campus-and i mean the older place in the State/Packard neighborhoods that have seen their better days-but not the many newer buildings or even the nice old ones.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 7:55 p.m.

You just need to get your parents to foot the bill like the students...............

Cole Bertsos

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 6:15 p.m.

This is true. They do look nice but even lowering it $100/month would actually move them from a bit steep to competitively priced.

say it plain

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

Those rents are too damned high! But, I think I smell a new 'business model' here. Buy cheap (4.2 million seems low, so I'm guessing these will be 'rental level' finishes and construction quality), rent high as possible (location's not ideal but there will still be a premium for units that are more like single-family dwellings and less like the boarding houses we're getting downtown filled up with), and you can always convert them to condos if the market seems to support that again. The venerable current news-outlet of just ran a front page on their freebie circular AP article on how to shop for property to rent out. Their 'angle' (and I think it's weak, but not surprising) is that with financing cheap and lots of people still not likely to get home loans anytime soon (through choice and necessity of recent credit issues or foreclosures), it might make ROIs on rentals a good move. Those rents are close to the payments condo-owners who bought too high in the last decade hope to get for their units, even if they have to settle for much less. So, this looks like someone's attempt to essentially run that sort of scheme on a larger scale.

Ricardo Queso

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

There goes the neighborhood.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

C'mon, put this development on Main Street where they had originally suggest putting Avalon Housing . Link:


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

@ themommer: "Each unit will have a one-car attached garage and interior bicycle parking. There will be a total of 36 surface parking spaces distributed in nine small parking lots on the site." Always best to read first, ask questions later.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

64 units of 2-3 bedrooms and 36 surface parking spaces? Are there more parking spaces somewhere other than the surface?


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

1 car attached garage for each unit. Reading is fun.

Jack Gladney

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

Maybe it's too early.... $4.2M for 53 units? Really? What are they building them out of? At $1500 a month, that is one heck of a pay off. Second thought: That $1500 - $1800 figure sounds crazy for that neighborhood. I used to live there on south Maple. Hopefully the rent includes 'round the clock security.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

Why do these comments get voted down? Look at a crime map of AA. That rent is high for that level of crime in the surrounding area. Perhaps the high rent does include security systems, but I don't see where cars would be parked, hopefully in locked garages.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

I wish them the best of luck with their development. Not the greatest location to pay $1500 to $1800 per month in rents. The old saying location, location, location, really holds true here....................


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

You could live about a half mile farther south and pay about $600 less / month...


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

Watch out wandering around in that neighborhood at night..................


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

*any way


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 4:42 p.m.

It might not be ideal, being that far west, but as someone who likes living in A2 and isn't really affiliated with the university in anyway, it might be just far enough away from campus and the Big House for people like me. I guess we'll see!