Developers of 618 south main apartment complex meet the public
The building will house studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments and will be situated between Main Street and Ashley Street, bordering Mosely Street, at the location of the former Fox Tent & Awning.
Although the design of the exterior of the building has not been finalized, it’s expected to follow the motif of the South Main Street area with red brick and steel as two of the main components, according to developer Dan Ketelaar.
Ketelaar, who works for firm Urban Development Group, said the area where the building will go is a unique spot in Ann Arbor — a neighborhood that transitions from the hustle and bustle from downtown into a more residential area of the city.
“This is a fairly unique piece of property. This location is close to town and close to campus and I don’t think there’s anything else like it in Ann Arbor,” Ketelaar said. “This is a neat location. You’re a part of downtown and you’re still a part of a community, which we’ve tried to respect.”
The latest design presented to the community at Friday night’s meeting will see the building in an L-shape, six stories tall and with roughly 180 units. There will be two floors of parking beneath the building, which will provide about 140 spaces, according to Mike Siegel, an architect with VOA Associates.
Siegel said the original plan was to have a block of apartments along Main Street and a block of townhomes and condominiums along Ashley Street. That evolved into the current L-shaped building with a courtyard facing the majority of Ashley Street.
Siegel said the area is zoned so no structure can be taller than 60 feet. The building as currently designed would have a peak height of about 80 feet, but if the project shows that the current design benefits the community, city officials can allow the project to go through as is, Siegel said.
“Main Street is the appropriate place for the density of this development and the more you can do to soften that edge toward the neighborhood, the better,” Siegel said.
Residents who attended the meeting voiced their concerns about increased parking in the area, whether the height of the building will block current views of the Ann Arbor skyline that residents enjoy and the effect of having a large number of new residents moving to an established neighborhood.
The apartments are aimed at young professionals in their mid-20s to mid-30s, Ketelaar said. He said the area around the complex would adjust to a more urban environment as the people living there created a demand for grocery stores, coffee shops and other stores.
He said the 618 south main complex would appeal to someone who wants to live within walking distance of downtown Ann Arbor and wouldn’t want to drive a car that often, which could help ease traffic and parking concerns. In addition, the building would have two or three ZipCars for resident use.
“Once people start living here like it’s an urban area, it will become more like an urban area,” he said.
City Council Member Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, encouraged the developers to take a proposal to city officials to potentially narrow Main Street to one lane in either direction in front of the complex.
“It would be difficult, but it would get a tremendous amount of buy in,” he said. “This is a project for the community and would help do a great deal for the community for traffic calming.”
There will be another meeting for residents to speak about the development from 5-7 p.m. on Nov. 22 at the Fox Tent and Awning location at 618 S. Main St.