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Posted on Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 6:01 a.m.

Ann Arbor developer gets mixed reviews on new Heritage Row Apartments project

By Ryan J. Stanton


Betsy de Parry consults with her husband, developer Alex de Parry, during Thursday night's meeting of the Ann Arbor Planning Commission.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Ann Arbor developer Alex de Parry received mixed reactions Thursday night as he presented his newly unveiled Heritage Row Apartments project to the City Planning Commission for the first time.

Contrary to previous plans that included tearing down seven century-old homes along South Fifth Avenue, de Parry vows to keep them intact and complete upgrades that follow federal guidelines for historic rehabilitation.

Heritage Row, an incarnation of the development formerly known as City Place, proposes up to 82 apartment units with 154 bedrooms.

Those would be split between seven historic houses in the 400 block of South Fifth Avenue and three new apartment buildings de Parry proposes building behind the houses.


Developer Alex de Parry presents different options for the color of brick that could be used for three new apartment buildings he plans to construct.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Thursday's meeting was purely meant to give the Planning Commission a first look at de Parry's new drawings and provide feedback. Commissioners focused largely on the relationship between the seven existing houses and the three new brick buildings that would go behind them.

Commissioner Jean Carlberg said there's "a great deal to like" about the project. She said no one would notice the rear buildings unless they looked through the houses and also noted she didn't find the rear buildings distasteful - despite comments made by a few residents to the contrary.

"I don't see much impact on the neighborhood in terms of feeling a greater number of people," she added. "Its proximity to the downtown seems to me makes this an ideal location for greater density."

Commissioner Kirk Westphal said he was glad to see efforts to preserve the rhythm of the streetscape and is "very encouraged by what's being proposed."

That contrasted with comments made by Commissioner Erica Briggs, who didn't like the look of the brick buildings. She said they lacked detail and, architecturally, weren't inspiring.

"It detracts from the neighborhood, and it's not in keeping with the current character of the neighborhood," she said.

City staff plans to work with the developer and bring a proposal back to the Planning Commission for consideration in March.

De Parry is asking for approval of a Planned Unit Development site plan for the 1.23-acre property at 407-437 S. Fifth Ave. He is requesting the site be rezoned from an R4C multiple-family dwelling district to PUD, which requires a demonstration of public benefit.

City Planner Matt Kowalski offered positive comments about the project in a verbal report at Thursday's meeting. He said Heritage Row meets two major goals of the city's Central Area Master Plan:

  • To promote sound and attractive residential neighborhoods that meet the housing needs of the current and future population - and are adequately served by urban services, infrastructure and facilities and conserve environmental quality.
  • To encourage sensitive, attractive, and innovative development and renovation in downtown Ann Arbor and in adjacent neighborhoods.

Kowalski said the brick buildings behind the houses would rise three and a half stories high (or about 39.8 feet), measure 44,738 square feet in size, and contain a total of 44 apartment units with 99 bedrooms. Broken down, that includes 33 two-bedroom apartments and 11 three-bedroom apartments.

Within the 26,873-square-foot space of the existing houses, de Parry plans to accommodate 38 more units with 55 bedrooms.

Of the total units on the site, de Parry is proposing that 18 percent - or about 15 of them - be designated as affordable housing. That goes above the city's 15 percent requirement, Kowalski noted in his report.

De Parry also has designated 59 percent of the site as usable open space, which goes beyond the city's 40 percent requirement. He said that's possible because of a 60-space underground parking garage he plans to build, which frees up surface space for a 1,500-square-foot landscaped plaza with a public art display.

A small number of residents were in attendance for Thursday's meeting. Among their concerns was the new buildings were too tall, and they advocated for limiting them to 30 feet. 

"Admittedly, the developer has come a long way from his original proposal, but this would be a lot better if the buildings in the back were of a lesser mass," said Fifth Avenue resident Tom Luczak, a member of the Germantown Neighborhood Association.

Luczak said the three new buildings "totally overwhelm" the houses in the front, which he called a "part of the fabric of the neighborhood." He said the Heritage Row project, though an improvement, still is "incompatible with the existing neighborhood."

The site of the proposed development lies within an area being studied by a City Council-appointed committee to see whether it should be designated a historic district. Earlier this month, the City Council voted to extend a moratorium on development within the district through Aug. 6 while the committee continues its work.

If the historic district is approved by the City Council, which appears likely, any project on the site would need approval from the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission.

Beverly Strassman, another Fifth Avenue resident and member of the Germantown Neighborhood Association, said density is one of her biggest concerns.

"The plans for our town say that the goal is to increase density in the downtown. I agree with that. My neighbors agree with that. We want more density in the downtown," she said. "However, if you cannibalize the neighborhoods that are near the downtown but outside the DDA, you are shooting yourself in the foot with respect to the goal of increasing density in the downtown."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.


Alex de Parry

Thu, Feb 25, 2010 : 6:48 a.m.

A few comments on the various postings. In February 2009, The Germantown Neighborhood Association (GNA) proposed a site plan which included two long, unbroken buildings behind the existing houses. In order to reduce the massing, we propose three shorter buildings rather than two longer ones. The GNA plan included one row of underground parking below each building. We refined their plan in order to accommodate two rows of underground parking. The city encourages non-surface parking. In fact, the Area Height and Placement Study Committee is proposing a one story bonus if underground parking is incorporated into future development proposals. The GNA proposal moved four of the seven existing houses forward on the site to an average front set back of 19 feet which is the current front set back for 3 of the houses. This part of GNAs proposal guided us as we were developing our site plan and in this respect, ours is indeed the same as theirs. The entire neighborhood south of William Street between Main Street and campus has primarily been multiple family since the 1920s when most buildings were converted into apartments. In fact, the Beakes house (415 South Fifth Avenue) already had renters in the 1890s. In the new buildings, white traditional windows with grilles, rather than casement windows, will be used. Trim on the building will also be white. A tan brick (Glen Gery Nob Hill) rather than a light red brick will make the new buildings a backdrop so that the existing, rehabilitated houses will be the highlight and focus of Heritage Row. Regarding the shading on one of the videos, the position of the sun was inadvertently placed backwards, i.e. on the computer, north was entered as south. We are in the process of changing the direction of the sun and there is still minimal shading on William Street. The new video will be posted on our web site as soon as it is available.

Tim R. Land

Mon, Feb 22, 2010 : 12:53 p.m.

Well, when this area becomes a historic district, let's see how the HDC responds to this proposal...


Sun, Feb 21, 2010 : 5:15 p.m.

Something to remember: Many of the people against building new rental units in Ann Arbor are landlords themselves. They own an extra house or two or three or maybe some whole buildings and new units coming on line force them to fix up their units or even negotiate on the rent. So long as they can keep the market closed off to new units, they will do well. Much of the opposition to building in A2 occurs because people will do almost anything to prevent competition. Look at the owner of the two hotels downtown. He will pay $2.5 million to prevent a new hotel being built on top of the parking lot by the library. At lease he is putting up money the others just bully their fellow citizens on the planning commission.


Sun, Feb 21, 2010 : 9:27 a.m.

Once again Mr. Whataker distorts facts and uses other info to conveniently to suport his dubious claims. His supposition that this project would lead to "more empty buildings and vacant lots" is absurd. Clearly this location is desirable for people working downtown or at the U. Using growth statistics like this is laughable. Ann Arbor is growing while the rest of the State's population is declining. This proves that Ann Arbor DOES need housing. The DDA border is irrelevant to the discussion. The most absurd assertion is that since there are 10 approved projects not built as of yet that there is no market. Conveniently, Mr. Whittaker has ignored a credit lockup unseen in the nation since the Great Depression. Lets ignore the fact that lending has simply been unavailable to support our absurd NIMBY proposition. The bottom line is that Mr. Whitaker believes that his property rights are more important than Mr. DeParry's. Either that, or Mr. Whittaker is deathly afraid of progress.

Tom Whitaker

Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 7:04 p.m.

What growth? Ann Arbor's population has averaged a 0.3% yearly increase over three decades. Census officials anticipate a loss of over 1000 people in Ann Arbor, 2000-2010. Over 2000 bedrooms have been added to Ann Arbor over the last two years. Why would we give away our community's master planning and zoning for more empty buildings and vacant lots? This is community planning that property owners rely on when they purchase their homes. They don't expect their City to just give it away for the asking. The City, with a tremendous amount of input, just completed five years of planning and rezoning of the downtown and adopted a new Downtown plan and zoning ordinance that leaves the adjacent neighborhoods alone. No call for expanding downtown, no call for density outside the Downtown boundary. The DDA just renewed its charter a few years ago, with no change to its original boundary. City Council just adopted a historic district study for the Germantown area because they see the value of preserving our neighborhoods, as prescribed in the Central Area Plan. The current R4C/R2A study has had several public forums that have consistently indicated a strong public preference for keeping these historic neighborhoods intact and supporting the Central Area Plan's protections. Time and time again, the community has spoken and expressed strong support for keeping these character-defining neighborhoods adjacent to downtown intact. There are at least 10 projects ALREADY APPROVED in the downtown, or neighborhoods next to downtown (including one in an historic district) that are not being built. Most are vacant lots, producing far LESS tax revenue than when they had homes and businesses on them. They aren't vacant lots because neighbors found a way to block them or because the City didn't approve them. They are vacant lots because THERE IS NO MARKET, AND AS A RESULT, THERE IS NO MONEY TO BUILD THEM. Our planning commission and city council must respect the wishes of the community as expressed in our master plans. These neighborhood projects are sprawl on a micro scale and if ever built, would kill any chance Ann Arbor has of getting true density in the Downtown, where we've all agreed it belongs.


Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 3:58 p.m.

The driveby simulation as shown looks fine to me (though the angle of sunlight trick was disappointing - what else is being cleverly manipulated?) What do the other three sides of the block look like? The simulation is just one side. The PDF site plan download is not helpful. Somebody must have a more intelligible site schematic, can we see it? Ya know, we have growth, and we can either sprawl or build up, and nothing's going to satisfy everybody. Rehabbing these houses is, in my opinion, a really generous form of compromise.


Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 2:23 p.m.

Moose, I agree,the old west side neighbors have gernerally been reasonable. This however is the "Germantown" area. The residents have clearly attempted to create a neighborhood "brand" of their own. They have resisted all change via standard "filibuster " tactics and trying to pretend that their neighbor hood is suddenly historic. By the way an old house is not necessarily historic. Furthermore, the neighborhood is perfectly located to allow for non-motorized tranportation to both The University & Downtown.. This is a perfect location for housing for folks who work in either location. Regardless, the fear of change compels these vocal neighbors to prevent progress,


Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 11:38 a.m.

Let's set the record straight about the so called NIMBY Old West Side. Old West Side residents worked with the developers to improve the now stalled multi story combined with parking, Village Green development at First and Washington. There is also the new YMCA in the OWS and the Delonis Center across the street on Huron. The renovation of the old factory into Liberty Lofts was a good and welcome addition to the neighborhood. Don't forget that Ashley Mews and the adjacent Syndeco high rise office building on S Main that went up with little opposition from OWS residents. There is also a desire in the OWS to allow and regulate so called "mother in law apartments" not only to increase neighborhood density but also help homeowners maximize the value of their property. As a whole, the OWS has supported and accepted far more development than it has opposed. If there is anything that other neighborhoods can learn from the Old West Side is that it helps to organize your neighborhood not only to oppose bad development, but organize to improve proposed developments that serve the interests of entire city while still protecting your neighborhood.

David Wallner

Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 9:22 a.m.

I applaud Mr. DeParry for his efforts to bring something of value to the community. Development, and redevelopment, is the only strategy that will produce long term benefits to the City. Ann Arbor is a community consisting of numerous separate neighborhoods. These individual areas cannot be allowed to ruin the opportunities for the greater community to prosper. New money is crucial. Do the math on that. How much more tax revenue does Heritage Row produce as compared to the existing seven residences? In 2010, how can a municipal entity ignore this fact. I personally don't care much for a lot of the building I see in the downtown area but whenever a developer has the courage to try to bring something new, he should be given every consideration.


Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 9:08 a.m.

The name calling is silly and unproductive. What is gained by labeling someone a NIMBY? It is simply meaningless. It is one thing to argue against someone who espouses a certain ethic, let us say places for homeless people, and then fights against placing them in their own neighborhood, and quite another to rant against those who do not want construction in their vicinity that they consider ruinous to the neighborhood. The opposition to massive buildings in an old single home historic area has nothing to do with being "NIBMY" or shmimby. Some people, who do not live next to the proposed constructions, disagree for specific reasons, others, it seems, just have a need to use these on line forums to get the nasty out of their systems.

Shirley Zempel

Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 11:20 p.m.

Mr. Stanton, you miss the point that this development is massive compared to the current density in the neighborhood. Add to that, the Moravian will soon follow just one block south. This will be likely to add 500 people plus cars in these two blocks. Currently the neighborhood is all mostly single family with some room rentals. There are no other large complexes such as those being planned - they are definitely out of character and density with the rest of the neighborhood. The Heritage Row may have separated buildings, but the buildings in the back are larger than we had discussed with Mr. De Parry. What was mentioned was carriage houses which would be considerably smaller that the buildings he plans. We're called "NIMBYS" for objecting to this. Tell me, do you think the west side neighborhoods or Burns Park would welcome this type of development and density? I am certain they would not.

Shirley Zempel

Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 10:33 p.m.

I don't know where most of the people responding to this are from, but you blindly ignore the protests of the residents. We are facing not just Heritage Row, but also the Moravian project. This means that at one end of our two block neighborhood we will have a development that could house 250+ residents and on Madison another with a similar number of residents. This in an area of mostly single family homes which is entirely out of character with the area. The traffic will be increased exponentially. And the apartments will be much more expensive than the housing it is replacing. I don't know where all you people are from that are commenting on this, but I'll bet you would not want this density in your neighborhood. They wouldn't stand for it on the Old West Side or Burns Park for instance. To destroy this street scape is detrimental to the ambiance of of the near downtown. It's too bad Mr. De Parry allowed the buildings deteriorate as much as they did, but he had a purpose. BTW, this is not downtown.


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 9:03 p.m.

It is amazing how much vitriol something like this can bring out. Why does a development that is simply a project to make money create a pretext for so many people to be ugly and nasty? The new project is much better than what has been offered before, but only because the neighborhood worked hard to protect their immediate environment. Would it really benefit the city as a whole to have the kind of blob that was envisioned in previous incarnations? Clearly the answer is no. Mr. de Parry has made many improvements to his initial plans and deserves much credit, but most of the reaction by neighbors is not to the effect that his plans be completely rejected, but only that here are still problems that have to be overcome. All the name calling by strange characters would make one believe otherwise, but this is really a conversation about how to make this a good project. After all, the builder will move on somewhere else, and they will have to live with whatever is built. The bottom line is that the whole city will benefit by making sure that Heritage Row is right for its environment. It will work out in the end, but it is still a mystery why the subject brings out the worst in people. Setting aside those who clearly have a financial interest and those who simply want to emote, I would only ask those who think clearly to let the process move on in the proper manner and to cease accusing people of mindless opposition; there are real problems here and they can be resolved to the benefit of both the neighbors and that of the developer.


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 6:55 p.m.

Voice of Reason, To answer your question, Crabby has (and will) not read the story. The NIMBYs have already made up their mind so the story is irrelevant.


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 5:11 p.m.

Crabby, Did you read a single word of the story?


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 4:17 p.m.

Well, guess whose fault it is that those grand old houses are "chopped into apartments, poorly maintained with shutters falling off, paint peeling, trash lying around, and back yards full of mud and gravel referred to as off street parking?" Why it's the developer, that's who! Surprise! And why is it that the city allowed that to happen? Where was code enforcement while those houses were falling into disrepair? Did the city fail to inspect the condition of those rentals? It's a lame and insulting trick to neglect the houses and then claim that they aren't worth saving. Every one of those houses could be a beautiful home. A legitimate argument can be made that restoring them would be more appropriate and beneficial to the city than cramming in more student rentals when the market is already saturated. But if city officials allow them to be ruined by a PUD rezoning and buildings wedged behind them you will never have that opportunity.


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 3:32 p.m.

What's so bad about a glut of student housing? Sounds like rent would go down and all of a sudden you have affordable housing! YEA!


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 3:26 p.m.

With this plan, the developer would not only be spiffing up these properties but adding another 100 years or more to the life of these once-beautiful historic homes. The tradeoff? Shadows on the backs of them in the morning and new buildings that you can barely see between them as you're driving by. The alternative would almost certainly involve the homes eventually being carted off to the landfill and replaced by big, ugly boxes and surface parking lots. The vast majority of these historic rentals will NEVER revert to being restored single-family homes--ask any property owner in the area. What developments like this do is take pressure OFF current single-family homes from forever becoming student rentals. Aging can really suck for both people and buildings, and it takes a lot of money and effort to counteract it. Let's not stick our head in the sand. This developer is giving downtown businesses, the taxpayers, and the neighbors a great deal. Let's take him up on it before he changes his mind.


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 2:06 p.m.

I walk by these houses almost daily and I have to say that, to me, they aren't beautiful, old, lovingly maintained homes. They are houses chopped into apartments, poorly maintained with shutters falling off, paint peeling, trash lying around, and back yards full of mud and gravel referred to as off street parking. I could see fighting for the status quo if these were well tended and cared for homes, but they really aren't. The only argument that makes sense, to me, in this thread is that there soon promises to be a glut of student housing. What happens if occupancy is too low to make this viable? Also, can we please dispense with the "affordable housing" anchor? I ask yet again: how many "affordable" units that developers have been forced to build downtown are in use by the people they were supposed to be for? Does this "work" or is it just to make people feel warm and fuzzy?


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 1:50 p.m.

Mr. Whittaker, you embarrassing yourself. "Once again our planning commission has set aside ordinance and code review in favor of having a lovely design Charente with the developer." This is not based on fact, just on your desire to stop progress "Once again they are relying on pretty pictures created by the developer to show his project in a favorable light, instead of analyzing the required, dimensioned submittals. As an administrative body, they have a duty to base their decisions on substantial and material evidence, not cartoons. This is especially true in the case of a PUD, which is the mother of all zoning variances." The article indicates that this was not a formal submission but an opportunity to get feedback from the commission. "What other misrepresentations might be found in these renderings with a little more analysis?" Everyone is out to get the neighborhood - there must be a conspiracy in there somewhere.... "Our planning commission needs to start enforcing the law. If they would do so, it wouldn't be necessary for the neighbors to do their jobs for them, subjecting themselves to name-calling in these forums." I agree with this, the planning commission ignored the law by rejecting the by-right plan in order to make YOU and your neighbors happy. Apparently that wasnt good enough. "It is indeed an improved submittal over City Place, but is has a long way to go before the City can allow it to be stuffed into the backyards of this historic street." Since you are clearly terrified of change and would like to deny the developer/owner of the property his property rights, perhaps you should consider buying the property from Mr. DeParry in order to preserve the status quo.

Tom Whitaker

Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 1:37 p.m.

Once again our planning commission has set aside ordinance and code review in favor of having a lovely design charrette with the developer. Once again they are relying on pretty pictures created by the developer to show his project in a favorable light, instead of analyzing the required, dimensioned submittals. As an administrative body, they have a duty to base their decisions on substantial and material evidence, not cartoons. This is especially true in the case of a PUD, which is the mother of all zoning variances. Notice the shadowing of the trees and houses in the bottom simulation video posted above. The architect has cleverly placed the sun in the north, as if this were Australia. Why? So no one would notice how the new buildings will actually shadow the houses on William Street. What other misrepresentations might be found in these renderings with a little more analysis? Our planning commission needs to start enforcing the law. If they would do so, it wouldn't be necessary for the neighbors to do their jobs for them, subjecting themselves to name-calling in these forums. It is indeed an improved submittal over City Place, but is has a long way to go before the City can allow it to be stuffed into the backyards of this historic street. On a high note, I'm pleased Mr. de Parry went on record last night agreeing to abide by the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation, and putting this requirement in his PUD agreement with the City. Currently, the project does not meet those standards, but if it was smaller and less impactful on the historic houses, it might get there yet. Right now, the commission needs to refocus on the PUD standards. Imagine a variance hearing in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals for someone who wants to add a few feet to the back of his house, or widen his driveway apron. That property owner would be subjected to a very rigorous grilling by the ZBA, and would more than likely be denied. Here we have a wholesale rewrite of the all of the key area, height and placement standards, yet the planning commission is more concerned with helping pick out a fabric for the drapes.


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 1:36 p.m.

I think this guy is going way out of his way to appease the community, so kudos to him. Of course, no one will be totally happy until it's scrapped, so I say this is the best compromise and realize not everyone will be happy. What is good is that the community was listened to and changes were made. Feel empowered! It would be nice if the roof-lines were tutor based personally since the original buildings were kept in the new format, but really, let's just stop talking about it and out the land to good use and keep urban sprawl from becoming Ann Arbor's nemesis.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 1:14 p.m.

The architect also pointed out to me today that the current proposal has only 10 more bedrooms than the previous R4C "Matter Of Right" project that de Parry proposed in the fall and was approved for this site.


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 1:13 p.m.

Ann Arbor already has a Shady Lane on the south side of town.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 1:09 p.m.

Please note that I have embedded videos showing 3D drive-by simulations of the project that were provided to me by the architect, Brad Moore of J Bradley Moore & Associates Architects Inc. It still hasn't been decided whether the brick type used will be the red or beige, but the drive-by uses the beige.


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 12:38 p.m.

So to be clear. Ann Arbor residents, who proudly admit their liberal beliefs, are ardently resisting progression? Might I point out the irony in this situation.


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 12:23 p.m.

As far as proposed developments go, this isn't bad. Gosh, I wish people would understand that the near downtown area will look exactly like this in the next few years and get over it. Progress and an increase in population demands that we tear down the old Victorians and replace them apartments and condos. Let me be the first to say to Developer Alex de Parry: Job well done!


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 12:08 p.m.

So the city has to lay off firemen, policemen, sell parks, fix a bridge but they are still letting a small group of individuals get in the way of new jobs and more tax base. Please, all developers, bring your projects to one of the townships.


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

One thing is for sure! When one changes the zoning they increase the value of the property! Is that not what this all about? The developer wants to make money! If this was a public works project we would not have this conversation, let Free Enterprise prevail, it will all be over soon, if Obama has his way.


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 11:26 a.m.

Clearly the neighbors want no change. Despite the developers multiple attempts to work with the City/neighbors, he is the only one who has shown a willingness to compromise. This is clearly an improvement over the approved plan. This should be welcomed by the NIMBYs but they dereve to have the uglier, approved plan built in their neighborhood.


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 11:14 a.m.

I'm glad we have a planning commission to appopriately select brick color for us.

A Pretty Ann Arbor

Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 9:53 a.m.

1. This is NOT DOWNTOWN - it is a near downtown neighborhood. 2. A2_Jim - this project is not for young people to live and work downtown - it is specifically for students. This has never been one of those cloaked projects for young professionals. Since there is a current glut of student housing and it will be worse once the U opens their new single room housing...why oh why do we need to destroy this wonderful intact housing? 3. The prices per room are higher than the current housing in that neighborhood - so affordable...well ask the current residents if they can afford it? 4. belboz - love your comments - and that IS DOWNTOWN! 5. It is just tragic what our city is doing to near downtown neighborhoods. Please think about the future and what we are doing to this city. You cannot UNDO the changes once they are made.


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 9:34 a.m.

"but these projects - ones that try to incorporate old building with new - will always look bizarre and out of place." Maybe like the new Courts and Police building and the old City Hall?


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 9:25 a.m.

Comedy... Tragedy... Which is it? Erica Briggs, who didn't like the look of the brick buildings: "... they lack detail and, architecturally, aren't inspiring."... "It detracts from the neighborhood, and it's not in keeping with the current character of the neighborhood." I wonder what she thinks of the Hieftje DDA monolith, aka the Hieftje Hotel and Conference Center, aka Library Lot Development, located less than a block away. You know, the giant Sanford-Magic-Rub-Eraser looking hotel building that will wipe out the character of the adjoining existing historic district to its north, as well as nearby hotel business? Does that inspire anyone architecturally, maintaining neighborhood character? Its contiguous neighbor is Earthen Jar, a quaint little restaurant that will soon feature a location in a perpetual shadow next to the new high-rise serving dumpster alley. Earthen Jar, by the way, is located in an existing historic district. What does this have to do with the original article? It provides context of how the City restricts private development, citing adverse neighborhood affect. It goes so far as to institute an historic district study area, blocking private development. Meanwhile Hieftje folly-ites promote their own development virtually next door, with great negative affect to neighbors in existing historic and business districts. Comedy... Tragedy... Which is it?

Pam Wilson

Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 9:25 a.m.

The proposed apartments are just ugly. There is no aesthetic and they do not blend with the current row of homes or the downtown area in the least!


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 8:36 a.m.

The zoning change is what bothers me. The project should be limited to the regulations of the current zoning standards. I don't live in the neighborhood, but these projects - ones that try to incorporate old building with new - will always look bizarre and out of place. I'm sure there are some nice angles that the developer can present in 2D that make things look pretty tame. But - driving through the student slums - I wonder how many of the out of place appartments once looked pretty cute on paper. Now, they just seem horribly out of place. There are 7 house right now that people can live in while working downtown. If people are looking for locations to build appartments, how about the old Ann Arbor News spot? That seems a more appropriate location...


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 8:20 a.m.

Neighborhood residents are still unhappy? Nobody could have ever predicted this.....

The Picker

Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 8:16 a.m.

How much per bedroom/month? What does affordable mean?


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 8:06 a.m.

Much better Idea for infill development in the downtown area - much better than the Moravian! Ann Arbor needs more inovative projects like this to increase the opportunity for young people to live & work down town - we all want a healthy down town with lots of people and activity - more historic districts do not make a lively, energetic, healthy down town. Lets hope the powers that be in city hall recognize a good thing when they see it.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 7:50 a.m.

"City Place" becomes "Heritage Row", marketing genius. Lets change Fifth Ave to "Shady Lane" too. "The plans for our town say that the goal is to increase density in the downtown. I agree with that. My neighbors agree with that. We want more density in the downtown," she said. "However, if you cannibalize the neighborhoods that are near the downtown but outside the DDA, you are shooting yourself in the foot with respect to the goal of increasing density in the downtown." I believe we can read that NIMBY... "not in my backyard"