Developer of 14-story tower above Pizza House to lease up to 42 parking spaces from Ann Arbor DDA
The development team behind a new high-rise proposed above Pizza House in the South University area says it's nearly impossible to provide the required amount of onsite parking.
"Because of the narrow footprint we can't find any way to accommodate parking onsite that's required," said Brad Moore, architect for the 14-story residential tower project.
Rendering by J Bradley Moore & Associates
After a brief discussion, the board voted 10-0 to allow the developer to lease up to 42 parking spaces in the city's downtown parking system to meet the city's requirements offsite instead of onsite. That's allowed under a policy formalized by the City Council earlier this year.
"We are going to need between 40 and 42 spaces. We're still fleshing out the final details," Moore told DDA officials, requesting that most of those space be in the Forest Avenue parking garage.
The 83-unit apartment building is expected to add about 181 beds next to and over a portion of the existing Pizza House restaurant on Church Street.
The project, which includes one- and two-bedroom units and a rooftop plaza, calls for demolishing a two-story house on the site just south of the restaurant.
The Ann Arbor City Council earlier this year voted to establish a formal policy for instances where parking is required for a new development, but the site constraints or the economics or goals of a project make the construction of onsite parking infeasible or unattractive.
City officials say the so-called "contribution in lieu" policy allows developers to meet their parking obligations while simultaneously supporting the public parking system.
"This was an option that the DDA developed and it just gives some flexibility to where the parking will be," said Mayor John Hieftje, who voted in favor of the agreement for up to 42 spaces. "It's something the DDA is willing to take a look at. There's room in the system."
Another benefit to the policy, city officials say, is that encouraging parking in the public system rather than in private developments can help limit the number of curb cuts across downtown sidewalks, lessening the instances in which pedestrians have to watch out for cars.
The city's Planning Commission also has argued that car-sharing options such as ZipCar can help new developments without parking operate successfully.
DDA officials plan to work with the development team to determine at a later date where the 42 parking spaces will be assigned. Many of them likely will be in the Forest Avenue parking garage, and others could be within other nearby campus-area public parking structures.
DDA Chairwoman Leah Gunn and Executive Director Susan Pollay are expected to work with the DDA's attorney and the city to execute a parking contract with the developer.
Ray Detter, chairman of the Downtown Area Citizens Advisory Council, appeared before the DDA on Wednesday to say his group supports providing offsite parking for the development.
"At the same time, we recognize that the Connecting William Street efforts are also dealing with the amount and location of parking that will or will not be required as we move ahead with the approval of other future developments," he said, encouraging DDA officials to keep that in mind.
Detter had generally positive comments about the design of the proposed 14-story tower above Pizza House. He said it seems to follow the city's design guidelines, something he said he couldn't say for another 14-story tower proposed just west of Sloan Plaza at 413 E. Huron St.
Rendering by J Bradley Moore & Associates
The Pizza House development and the 14-story high-rise proposed at 413 E. Huron St. are set to go before the city's Design Review Board on Oct. 17.
Moore explained the Church Street project on Wednesday, saying it's going to be constructed over two-thirds of the site. The original Pizza House restaurant occupies the northern third.
An addition Moore designed for the Tice family occupies the middle third, and the two-story house being demolished occupies the southern third.
"That house would be demolished and the new construction would occupy that southern third and extend over the top of the middle third of the lot," Moore said.
"When the addition to Pizza House on that middle third was designed, it was designed with a foundation system put in place — currently there now — to handle a vertical addition," he added. "So part of the project is already in the ground, and what we're proposing is to complete that addition by demolishing the house and building the tower over the southern two thirds of the parcel."
Munzel vouched for the Opus Group, which has done several projects throughout the Midwest and other parts of the country, but not in Michigan.
"They are an experienced real estate developer with a broad range of experience, including student rentals, as well as your more-typical, multi-family developments," Munzel said. "They're a good solid developer to undertake this project."