You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

City Place developers expecting to receive demolition permits next week

By Ryan J. Stanton


Construction equipment sits on the site of the City Place apartments project.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The city of Ann Arbor is expected to issue permits next week to allow developer Jeff Helminski to demolish seven century-old houses on South Fifth Avenue.

According to sources close to the project, the city's head building official is expected to sign off on the permits on Tuesday. Helminski has indicated he would like to aggressively pursue demolition in the near future, and utility work already is under way on the site.

Once demolition starts, possibly this month, that's seen as the point of no return for the controversial City Place student apartments project that neighborhood residents and city officials have hoped wouldn't materialize.

Ann Arbor resident Tom Whitaker, a neighbor to the project, sent an e-mail to other residents today offering an update on efforts to stop the project. Whitaker and other residents were under the impression the demolition permits had already been issued.

"We filed an appeal with the Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday regarding issues with City Place, but the city has taken the position that our appeal does not stay the demolition," Whitaker wrote in the e-mail. "My guess is that the houses will probably come down over the weekend as the developer tries to move quickly before any other potential obstacles emerge."

Sources close to the project say it's not true that demolition will happen this weekend, though it could happen sometime this month.

Wendy Rampson, the city's planning manager, said demolition permit applications for the houses at 407, 411, 415, 419, 427, 433 and 437 S. Fifth Ave. were submitted to the city's building department today. She said they're currently under review for compliance with the city's demolition requirements.

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 e-mail newsletters.


Ann English

Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 11:07 p.m.

It looks like no one had places picked out in which to move those houses, but then, they were being used, unlike other houses around town that were relocated and put to other uses.


Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

Kunselman is up for re-election in Ward 3, vote for his opponent.


Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

We can thank our mayor and city council for this folly.


Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 5:40 p.m.

Unfortuantely when you have a city council focused on themselves and not the citizens they represent, you are going to have situations like this occur. One thing to help prevent a similar situation in the future is to vote for NEW council members. Even replacing the current council members up for reelection should send a message to the other council members and mayor they will be the next to be voted out if their focus is not changed. Be sure to voice your opinions on Tuesday by voting.


Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 6:05 p.m.

The same applies to the school board. We need new faces.

David Cahill

Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 2:23 p.m.

It's great that the neighbors have discovered the Zoning Board of Appeals! The ZBA is ten feet tall and covered with hair. It can change nearly any decision made in the zoning area. It is an independent body created by state law. If the neighbors should lose at the ZBA, the final recourse is to the courts.


Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

All we had to do was approve the Historic District for this area.

Jimmy McNulty

Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

I wonder if the builder is able to salvage some of the architectural materials from the homes before razing them? I would think some of those materials would be highly desired by folks restoring older homes.


Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 1:59 a.m.

It's very sad indeed to see these houses go. If citizens had spoken up in support of the previous developer, who was not only willing to save the houses but also to restore them, then maybe at least one of the minority of council members (Briere, Hohnke, Anglin and Kunselman) who voted against the previous development might have voted differently and the houses would now be undergoing renovation. Instead, demolition is the sad consequence of the vocal minority's refusal to compromise - something only the former developer was willing to do. How ironic.

Marilyn Wilkie

Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 2:01 a.m.

I guess the asylum is being run by the inmates.

Barbara E. O'Donnell

Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 1:47 a.m.

I't a sad day to read such rubbish -- to see history going to rubble to be replaced by new meaningless buildings -- Something is very wrong with this City that I've lived in for fifty three years -- I am so very sad to see all this happening -- B.E.O'Donnell


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 11:58 p.m.

I said this about an earlier article on this topic and I think, before all the naysayers come through, it's worth saying again: For those who value history, this is a sad, sad sight. For those who mock that sentiment, please return to the indistinguishable home in the indistinguishable subdivision whence you came. And please, when traveling there, stop for pedestrians in the crosswalks.


Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 12:22 p.m.

I'm going to have to disagree with the "worth saying again" part.

Marilyn Wilkie

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 11:46 p.m.

Article on Samuel W. Beakes - <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;oldid=43941</a> --------------------- Andrew Reule - Owner, Ann Arbor Buggy Co. And.... <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> ---------------------- Alfred Paul - Owner, Ann Arbor Bowling Alleys ---------------------- Herbert M. Slauson - <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Terry Star21

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 11:33 p.m.

This is a very sad day in not only Ann Arbor but Michigan as a state - for God's sake, how could something like this happen ?


Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 5:01 a.m.

For Michigan? I don't think anybody outside of A2 knows this project is even around, much less cares. Blame the city. Feet-dragging, blah blah blah. We reap what we sow.

Marilyn Wilkie

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 11:21 p.m.

Just to remember who cherished these homes when they were fairly new. Polk's Ann Arbor City Directory, 1915 407 S. Fifth Ave. - Alfred W. Paul 411 - Andrew Reule 415 - Samuel W. Beakes, Robert L. Stancill (1916) 419 - no one noted 427 - Mrs. Josephine A. Hamilton 433 - Herbert M. Slauson 437- Mrs. Anna S. Taylor, Mrs. Keziah Campbell, nurse (1916)