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Posted on Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 12:02 p.m.

Developer of 14-story tower above Pizza House to lease up to 42 parking spaces from Ann Arbor DDA

By Ryan J. Stanton

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.

Pizza House restaurant owner Dennis Tice and the Minnesota-based Opus Group are teaming up to bring forward the development at 624 Church St. in Ann Arbor.


A look a the 14-story tower proposed above Pizza House.

Rendering by J Bradley Moore & Associates

Moore and Tice, along with attorney Scott Munzel, appeared before the Downtown Development Authority's governing board on Wednesday to request some help with the parking situation.

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.


Another look at the 14-story tower proposed above Pizza House.

Rendering by J Bradley Moore & Associates

"At this moment, most people I've spoken to think the design of 624 Church is very impressive compared with 413 E. Huron, and I'll leave it at that," Detter said.

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."

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.



Fri, Oct 19, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

The demo of Szechuan West marked the end of Ann Arbor!


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

If they can locate an incompetent architectural firm we can have our very own A2 leaning tower of pizza. Just think how many new "greatness lists" that could get us added to.

Wolf's Bane

Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

This is an example of beautiful and functional building: Developers take note.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

So YOU are now the person who decides what looks good and doesn't? YOU get to make that decision? If you think that is an attractive building, I hate to see what kind of person you are in a relationship with. If you want something that looks different, how about putting up YOUR money and building it. What gives YOU the right to decide anything about the way somebody else's property looks like. Oh that's right, you are the busy body Mrs Kravitz who is in everybody else's business.

say it plain

Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 4:34 a.m.

Ugh. Just ugh.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 2 a.m.

If the towers keep my apartment complex from charging excessive rent for sub par housing, let them be built. I don't care much about parking on South U. anyway. Maybe to alleviate the problem for the rest of you, they might install elevators for cars. Elevators are used for parking in many big cities where footprints are small. For those that are fans of bad 1970's crime shows, they could even have the elevators share both car and people traffic. That way each apartment could have a car parked right inside the apartment like the show Vega$'s Dan Tanna.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 1:24 a.m.

There has always been considerable turn over of business in the S. University area. While the general thinking seems to be that the businesses will fair better there once there are more students, I disagree. The long term businesses there are the ones that manage to attract some non-students as well. But I don't know who would want to frequent that area after the construction of even more towers and the horrific traffic and hassle that the increased density is going to create.

Spicy Whitey

Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 1:08 a.m.

I just don't get how 40-42 parking spaces will be able to accommodate 181 beds. There is a parking deck, but how many people are going to want to pay hourly/daily fees to park there? Seems to me that there's a bit more to be thought oit.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

Ah South University a haven of drunk frat kids and daddies little girl wasted and wanting pizza, oh downtown why not jut bulldoze the rest of the buildings and make it the new Sodom and Gomorrah district of Ann Arbor. Adding another building will surely bring more of the same rich kids with attitudes to this once sleepy village. No non- students really lives down there anyway. And they might as well add a Police Drunk Tank there also, think of the revenue. What is College about anyway, oh yeah PARTY SCHOOL. I know this city caters to big business developments and the University but adding another burden to tax payers is just reprehensible. You know another parking structure is coming. That is why I do not live in this city anymore, but I do work in it. It is nice to visit in the Summer.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 10:32 p.m.

We have lived in Ann Arbor for decades and plan to continue to live here. However, there are some long term residents who could be forced to leave if there are millages added to pay for more parking structures and to pay for a perfectly good library building that can be updated faster and cheaper without replacing the structure. Where are the priorities of city council and the DDA?

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 7:44 p.m.

These buildings just get uglier and uglier. So, so ugly.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

Apparently, all high rise buildings downtown are planning to provide parking for its residents. Has anyone studied the expected changes in traffic patterns and congestion resulting from the increased densit? Also, I hope that any privately arranged parking assignments do not violate stipulations of the Village Green and the library parking structure tax privileged bond issues which limit the number of designated spaces for private use, commonly ten percent.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

And this one would be in addtion to the one discussed in the below link, correct? It's honestly getting difficult to keep track of all the new high-rises completed or yet-to-come. I just wonder what pedestrian traffic will be like along South University with thousands of new residents living in the immediate area. The four-way stop at Church will be nearly impassable around class-change.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 12:56 a.m.

That intersection is almost impassable now when classes are changing or at around 5 - 5:30 pm. I don't know what the alternatives would be for traffic control.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 8:14 p.m.

A good reason to avoid South U! I like the thought of all the students in a concentrated area. How about closing South U to automobiles?


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 6:10 p.m.

What a fiasco for those of us who are non-students and out of delivery range who go to Pizza House for the occasional deep dish pizza and fried ravioli. I'm assuming the owners don't care about this clientele anymore and are putting all of their financial goals into the hands of people that will live in this building and immediate area. Should be interesting to see how this plays out for them.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

It could also be negative for other area businesses, but restaurants away from the center of the city and even outside of Ann Arbor should benefit.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 7:04 p.m.

We shall see if that's true...or if people will even try. Sundays will be a bust since due to it being free, all the residents who didn't get the 40+ parking spots in the Forest St. structure will be parked in there.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 6:38 p.m.

Do you visit Pizza House during standard business hours (9AM - 5PM)? Probably not. You'll have plenty of parking in the evening once daily commuters empty out.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

@ Dennis & M Change is difficult. You will be fine. Time moves on.

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

Hardly. How can you sacrifice your aesthetics and sense of design and architecture for this crap, unless you are blind or just stupid? Its sad.

Tom Joad

Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

Doesn't it seem dangerous to have that projecting overhang atop that tall building? Would icicles form and drop on the sidewalk below?


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 11:14 p.m.

They don't look like they overhang the sidewalk. Note that the third floor (and above) is set back from the second floor.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

You'll shoot your eye out


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 4:38 p.m.

I hate what downtown is becoming


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

Audion Man- Residents of the State of Michigan have made up approximately 65% of total enrollment for some time now:

Audion Man

Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

Ann Arbor has long been a playground for over-entitled out-of-state students. I don't see it becoming anything that it hasn't already long been...


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

Hopefully some day we can have a downtown like Detroit.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

Ann Arbor is dead. It's just another all-for-the-money greedhole now. So much local flavor has been lost to the big developments, and the increasing franchise-ing of businesses on State and Main.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

Ryan, is there a study of how this will affect parking in the South University area? With Zaragon, Landmark, University Towers, and now this, I think the DDA will soon be asking for a new parking structure in the South U area. If the "Pizza House Tower" has 181 beds, 42 spaces does not seem like enough. It is unbelievable that the other 139 people (and support staff) will not drive/need parking. I am curious to know the occupancy rates of the Williams Street Structure last year and this year for September, as well as projected parking for the future. In my opinion the DDA just sees more money, and they are not doing their due diligence to effectively meet parking supply and demand.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

@johnnya2 People make mistakes. As did I. Replace Williams with Forest, and point is still valid. Thank you for the correction, and by the way it is spelled "thanks". You are welcome.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

@iamwrite Nice job reading the article "most of those space be in the Forest Avenue parking garage." The occupancy of a totally separate garage has NOTHING to do with this project, but thansk for playing.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 5:48 p.m.

The Williams Street structure is typically full every weekday as it is. Are the 42 spaces going to materialize out of thin air, or are we forcing commuters to park in the streets? By bowing down to the developers, the DDA is disenfranchising the people who actually make this town run...the employees of the businesses.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

To clarify further, I think it is irresponsible of the developers to build this without adequate parking. If this is the "vision" of Tice and the Opus Group, then it is built on greed to ignore the shortfall of parking. I wonder if the Tice family will sell once it is all built and cash out. This is irresponsible of the DDA to put the extra burden of parking on the tax payers of Ann Arbor if another structure is needed, and they are using these developments as an excuse. This A2D2 experiment is going to burst if everyone needs to rent a "zipcar", "PoolPark", or expect everyone to walk/ride a bike.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

I asked DDA Director Susan Pollay to remind me of past instance when the city/DDA granted a developer spaces within the parking system to meet requirements for a new development. She pointed out the city has agreements with Corner House Lofts (Buffalo Wild Wings building), McKinley Towne Center, and Village Green, and all of those deals were worked out as part of development agreements. Pizza House is the first time this kind of thing will be done under the umbrella of zoning put in place as part of A2D2, Pollay said, but the practice of providing monthly permits with a surcharge cost on them has been done before as part of the city development process.