Demolition paves way for controversial 413 E. Huron development
Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com
Crews could be seen Tuesday afternoon clearing pieces of the buildings, including the former Papa John's Pizza at the corner, into large dump trucks to be hauled away.
Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com
The description of the permit on the city's online permit-tracking website states: "Demo Building for Immediate Re-Development."
O'Neal Construction also applied for a building permit on March 21, but city records show the status of that permit listed as "on hold" for now.
The 413 E. Huron apartment building, controversial because it will tower over a historic neighborhood to the north, met the city's zoning requirements and so the City Council had no choice but to approve it, argued the majority of council members who OK'd the project last month.
But following months of intense lobbying, protest, community debate, and hours of public hearings and deliberations, council members' failure to stop a project they didn't want to approve — at least not as presented — has raised questions about the city's downtown zoning.
Residents continued to speak out against the project at Monday night's council meeting, calling the project's approval a failure of the city's zoning and development approval process.
Ann Arbor resident Peter Nagourney said a majority of council members erred when they cited fear of losing a potentially costly lawsuit as their reason for not stopping the project.
"Why does Ann Arbor pay over $400,000 annually for insurance premiums, but it's reluctant to face down a developer with only threats but not case law on its side?" Nagourney said. "How did Ann Arbor let an out-of-state developer outsmart us if no one on council wanted this project to go forward?"
After acquiring several properties on Huron Street near Division, the development team — a mix of out-of-state companies — submitted preliminary design plans to the city in late September. The project's estimated construction cost is $45 million.
Members of the development team include the property owner, Connecticut-based Greenfield Partners; the developer, Georgia-based Carter; Oregon-based Ace Hotel acting as a design consultant; and Texas-based architect Humphreys & Partners. O'Neal Construction is the general contractor for the project.
The proposed building measures 263,504 square feet, containing a total of 208 apartments and 513 bedrooms.
The new high-rise replaces a vacant 10,300-square-foot building, a former Papa John's pizza restaurant and a house.
Mayor John Hieftje said the 413 E. Huron project isn't perfect, but it improved through the review process. He said he's encouraged that roughly 60 percent of the apartments will be one- and two-bedroom units, which he thinks will attract more diversity — and not just college students.
Hieftje said he's interested in making downtown zoning changes to stop developers from building more four- and five-bedroom apartments targeted toward students.
If he had his way, he said, the zoning would steer developers toward building more workforce housing with one- and two-bedroom apartments, and a limited number of three-bedroom apartments.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.