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Posted on Wed, May 22, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Kerrytown condo project headed to Ann Arbor City Council for approval

By Ryan J. Stanton


A rendering of the proposed Kerrytown condo project shows two of the three proposed buildings viewed from North Main Street.

Huron Contracting LLC

Tom Fitzsimmons' plans to build new upscale condos in Kerrytown received unanimous approval Tuesday night from the Ann Arbor Planning Commission.

The project, which spans the block between North Main Street and Fourth Avenue at the former site of a Greek church that was demolished last year, now heads to City Council for approval.

Fitzsimmons had been calling the $11.8 million project Kerrytown Place, but the city required him to submit two separate site plans for approval.


An overhead view of the Kerrytown condo project shows the two larger buildings with a shared courtyard in the middle and the smaller Fourth Avenue building to the east. The project is surrounded by residential and commercial uses.

Rendering by Robert Latsko

Those are now separately identified as 414 N. Main and 401 N. Fourth Ave., though the commission considered them jointly Tuesday night.

The commission recommended approval of both the site plans and the rezoning of the property from a Planned Unit Development designation to D2 zoning.

Fitzsimmons, a lifelong Ann Arborite who has been building homes here for 24 years, said it's been extremely challenging coming up with a plan that works for the site.

He said he personally met with every single neighbor, as well as surrounding business owners, to solicit feedback and it's been universally positive. The feedback from the Planning Commission was mostly positive Tuesday night as well.

"It's really great to see a project like this being proposed for that site, which has been empty for quite a while," said Commissioner Tony Derezinski. "I think it is a very attractive project."

Derezinski said the project meets a growing need for empty nesters who want to move out of their homes and live downtown.

"Overall I think it's a great project," agreed Commissioner Eric Mahler.

City Planner Alexis DiLeo gave a staff report on the two different site plans at Tuesday's meeting and offered staff's recommendation for approval.

The plans for 414 N. Main call for a 16-unit townhouse building with an underground garage, 12 carport parking spaces and 24 surface parking spaces.

The proposed building is designed to have two short towers atop underground parking. A three-story tower is proposed on the west side, containing eight dwelling units, and a four-story tower is proposed on the east side, containing eight more units. The western units would front North Main directly, while the eastern units would front a central courtyard between the two towers.

The existing surface parking lot on the south part of the site would be reconstructed, and a public walkway connecting North Main and the alley would be added along the north edge of the lot. The site plan for 401 N. Fourth Ave. continues the walkway to Fourth Avenue.

Access to 12 carport spaces, located underneath the east tower, and the underground garage spaces for the townhouse units is provided from the mid-block alley.

The site contains two landmark trees — both 18-inch honey locusts — near the North Main sidewalk. One is proposed to be replaced with six smaller trees planted on the site.

Stormwater management for a 100-year storm volume would be provided in underground tanks for the entire development, including the townhouse building and the surface parking.

The plan for 401 N. Fourth Ave. includes a duplex building with a two-car garage for each unit and a 21-space surface parking lot. Each unit has its front door facing Fourth Avenue.

Overall — both site plans together — the project represents nearly 32,500 square feet of new development reaching four stories high on Main Street and three stories high on Fourth Avenue. A total of 80 parking spaces are included in the plans.

One of the challenges of the property is an easement with neighbor McKinley Inc. for 57 parking spaces, which was agreed upon when a previous development project known as The Gallery was proposed for the site. Fitzsimmons said fitting those spaces into the plans, along with adequate parking for future residents of the buildings, was a struggle.

Sabra Briere, who serves on both City Council and Planning Commission, said the city looked at the property last year when it entered tax foreclosure to see if it was something the city should be interested in and found the easement restrictions for 57 parking spaces "really daunting."

"That created a real challenge for development," she said, adding she's pleasantly surprised that a solution was found for the site "without making it ugly."

Commissioner Bonnie Bona said she understands it's a restriction on the property, but the surface parking is "really unfortunate" and not a good use of land downtown.

The PUD zoning for the property — with a 185-foot height limit — remains in place while Fitzsimmons asks the City Council to rezone it to D2, which caps building height at 60 feet and provides for more of a transition into downtown for residential areas to the north.

The site plans show the building height for what Fitzsimmons is proposing actually would top out at 49.45 feet along Main Street and 42 feet along Fourth Avenue.

Commissioner Wendy Woods thanked Fitzsimmons for not asking for D1 zoning, which allows up to 180 feet and would have been controversial for that area.

"I certainly hope the buildings look the way the (drawings) are looking, because it really is going to enhance that part of Main Street," Woods said. "It's obvious you've put a lot of thought into this, and I guess I want to say thank you so much for not asking for anything D1."

Fitzsimmons said the condo units would measure 1,400 to 2,400 square feet and would be a mid- to high-end product. He said there's huge demand right now for "single-floor living."

The Planning Commission considered another property owners' request Tuesday night to rezone 2.24 acres of land at 2271 S. State St. to allow for sale of automobiles. Following advice from city staff, the commission voted to recommend denial of the request.

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.



Wed, May 22, 2013 : 10:47 p.m.

Ryan, This article says it's an 18 unit development (16 unit townhouse plus one duplex) costing $11.8 million. This previous article says it's a 19 unit complex costing $10 million. Using numbers from this article, to break even will require getting $655K for each unit (average). The old article had a break-even of $526K. Which is it?


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 12:22 a.m.

... and how many square feet in each townhouse does $655K purchase?

pooh bear

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 5:16 p.m.

people! do any of you understand how real estate works? Affordable housing needs to be subsidized and there are many subsidized housing units downtown already, plus the Homeless Shelter. You absolutely have no idea how much is already there, plus the wonderful houses owned by Avalon. I say hooray to Tom Fitzsimmons for building what fits into the neighborhood and will be a big draw for the area. The City and also the DDA should just stay out of the can't manipulate a market without a lot of public money. Stores like BABO and those at Kerrytown can fill needs for almost everything and no one is going to give up a car. So guys, just chill and say welcome to Kerrytown Place.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

@NSider Prez O has no proposal to freeze COLA. The proposal is to use a slightly different formula for calculating the Consumer Price Index when calculating COLAs. It will result in somewhat smaller COLAs but isn't anything close to a freeze.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

Really? Kerrytown groceries? I take it you are NOT retired. I take it you are not looking at Prez O freezing cola increases in social security while everything, including KTown groceries, continue to go up. Give up a car? How about WHEN your car is taken from you? You think the elderly ride buses because they like to? It is more likely it is when some foolchild of theirs takes away their license, and then tries to stick them out next to a cow pasture in "assisted" dying. I hope you are young, so that when you hit your elder years things will be even worse than they are now.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

Keep the expensive developments coming. We need all the tax revenue we can get to fix our roads.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

Okay, fair enough, they look nice and will add to downtown. Now tell me... who is building the modest size grocery store, within walking distance of the Huron-Main intersection? You know, the one where city-center dwellers could walk to and bring their granny carts? It doesn't have to be a "Thrifty Acres" or "Mart", just a nice sized grocery. [Old AA rez will remember the A&P that used to be on State Street, almost right at the intersection with Liberty.] Or is every city center dweller supposed to live on Zingerman's?


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

Sparrow Market in Kerrytown. People's Food on Fourth.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

It's already there. Babo. Washington and Division.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

Finally, amid a whole lot of greed-driven crap that's been littering our skyline of late, someone with local ties actually proposes something that makes sense, has some aesthetic appeal, and meets with praise from surrounding neighbors and land owners.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

Ann Arbor definitely needs more one floor living bigger than 800 sq ft. Many retiring baby boomers, etc, do not want 3 story townhouses. These appear to be multi-level townhouses.

Dirty Mouth

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

This project is awesome and just what the area needs. Glad to also see that it is reasonably scaled. Bravo.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 5:09 a.m.

Dirty Mouth - Hmm. I must have missed the pricing for the condos but the following statement in the article indicates that the pricing will not be cheap: "Fitzsimmons said the condo units would measure 1,400 to 2,400 square feet and would be a mid- to high-end product." In fact if you divide the $11.8 million cost of construction by the total size of the buildings (32,500 square feet), you obtain a cost per square foot of $363. If you multiply the smallest sized unit and the largest sized unit by $363 you arrive at a range of cost per units of $508,000 (for the smallest 1400 square feet) to $871,000 (for the largest 2400 square feet). Of course the developer will have to sell these units for more than cost if a profit is to be realized. Would you mind elaborating on what you mean by "reasonably scaled"?

Dirty Mouth

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

Veracity, the operative word is "SCALE."


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

Soon we will see exactly what demand exists for high priced condos near downtown. Ashley-Terrace did not do well.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

I am curious, but why isn't this land used to build a complex for affordable housing? Or the stretch of land on N Main where those houses are being bulldozed? I find it curious that the Planning Comission wants to build something down by Briarwood, but heaven forbid, not in downtown. Could it be that they want the affordable housing residents OUT of downtown so they do not become an eyesore for residents and visitors alike? I am beginning to smell a rat. If the City is so concerned with affordable housing, then why not do something about it and build something downtown? Or is their intent, to push it as far out as possible so NO one knows it is there?


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 6:28 p.m.

I agree with Grateful. Why does low income automatically get a spot in the downtown area? If you want to live downtown in a nice city...EARN IT!


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

You are exactly right JBK. A2 wants affordable housing residents OUT of downtown. I for one applaud that decision.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

The cost of building affordable housing downtown is the same as for housing which is being sold or rented at a premium. Without government financial support such as with vouchers developers can not make money off of affordable housing, a major impediment to affordable housing construction.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

Sabra did say at the planning commission meeting that the city looked at the property when they knew it was headed for tax foreclosure auction. But she said it was "daunting" because of the easement with McKinley.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

Why isn't this land used to build a complex for affordable housing? Perhaps because the owner of the land does not wish to use it for that purpose? Or maybe because you could have bought the land from the church and built affordable housing, but lacked the means and/or willingness to shoulder the risk?


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

Certainly Fitzsimmons' plans fit in with surrounding structures better than 413 E. Huron does with its surrounding structures. The buildings would fit in perfectly if they were no taller than three stories, retaining an openness and consistency for Ann Arbor's skyline. Watch out for an effort by the DDA to pay for the parking structure as an enticement for Fitzsimmons who does not need the gift (but surely will accept it if offered). The DDA has done just that for Village Green's City Apartment building being constructed at First and Washington Streets. That little bonus to the developer is costing tax payers $575,000 annually for servicing the $9 million of bonds that the DDA issued to finance the parking structure. And Village Green gets the private use of 145 of the 240 parking spaces for its residents at reduced monthly rates. The selling price for the condos has not been mentioned but should be high due to the cost of building the condos on prime land. Hopefully, the units will sell better than the Ashley-Terrace condo units which had to eventually be converted to rental apartments. Unfortunately, the high rents chased away lessees and Ashley-Terrace eventually became bankrupt. But there is a good conclusion to this story in that the building was bought out of bankruptcy for 30 cents on the dollar. Since the new owner got the building so cheaply he was able to offer the apartments at competitive rates, which led to full occupancy and even a profit from the enterprise. So one way or another Fitzsimmons development should attract customers and even if he profits only from his development fee, the DDA and City Council members will be happy to be able to welcome new residents to (near) downtown Ann Arbor.

Stupid Hick

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

Veracity, thank you for your excellent and informed commentary. My comment to Bob was prompted by incredulousness that a newspaper reporter would ask, in the comments section of his own 'newspaper', for information that is easily obtained from a primary source.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 4:45 a.m.

CORRECTION: "ad" not "add." Geesh!


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 4:44 a.m.

Stupid Hick - I accessed the URL link in your comment and was greeted by an undated add for the sale of three condominiums at Ashley-Terrace. The units were being offered by Joseph Freed and Associates, who were the original developers, some time before entering bankruptcy in 2010. After being purchased out of bankruptcy in 2011 by Alidade Capital Fund LP of Bloomfield Hills, the building was renamed 111 N. Ashley. At the time of purchase the building had 29 of its 99 condo units unsold. After changing ownership 5 more condos sold and the remaining 24 units were leased or used as staged units by the time of Lizzy Alfs informative article, entitled "After foreclosure and sale, downtown Ann Arbor's Ashley Terrace gets rebranding," published at on February 2, 2012. The entire article can be found at the following link:


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 12:16 a.m.

Ryan, The city may only pay for the spaces that it uses (whatever that means) but this communication from Susan Pollay, director of the DDA, documents the details of a recent bond issue which pays for the construction of the parking structure for Village Green. The DDA will use $575,000 tax payer dollars to pay for annually servicing the bond issue for the next 30 years "Total project cost for the 1st & Washington parking structure: $10,029,655. (The total cost will include purchasing the parking spaces from Village Green, exterior signage, cost for the DDA's engineer throughout the design process & construction, parking equipment, City overhead charge, and alley improvements (DDA has already installed a new storm water main & electrical, and once construction is completed we will regrade the alley & then install a concrete drive surface). The DDA will pay for this project using a project bond (85%) and with funds from its fund balances (15%). The project bond = $8,525,000 + $141,075 (proceeds cost) = $8,666,075 total bond. The taxable portion of this bond is $4,045,000. The untaxed portion of this bond is $4,480,000. The ratio was assigned due to the percentage of the garage that is under contract to Village Green (73 monthly parking permits plus 73 off-peak monthly parking permits only usable from 3pm to 9am, out of 244 total parking spaces). DDA cash contribution to the project will be $1,504,655."

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 9:34 p.m.

@Veracity - I asked Tom Crawford from the city for the latest breakdown of the public/private parking going in at First and Washington. He tells me this: "The final won't be exact until we close and the city is only paying for the number of spaces provided. The latest I have are 98 full-time public, 73 reserved for the building (but if they're not used the DDA can use them for public), plus 73 flex where based on certain hours of the day the spaces will be reserved and some other hours public."

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

@Veracity: Keep in mind that Ashley Terrace has about six times as many units as the Kerrytown project. @Bob: I wrote a story last year about the building, and at that point, the "low end" condo cost was $274,000. Owners who are renting their units are charging upward of $30 per square foot. An 803-square-foot 1BR is listed for $2,200, or an annual $32.88 per square foot.

Stupid Hick

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Bob, I'm not a professional journalist, but even I know how to use google. Here's a lead for you, from "Call Andy Piper at 734-604-8242 for up to the minute availability of condos for sale or lease in Ashley Terrace"


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

Fitting in perfectly is yawnerific! Go forward into the future!!!

Bob Needham

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

Interesting perspective. Do you know how much the Ashley Terrace units are renting for?


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

More blank canvas for graffiti! Thumbs up!


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

Commissioner Wendy Woods thanked Fitzsimmons for not asking for D1 zoning, which allows up to 180 feet and would have been controversial for that area. "I guess I want to say thank you so much for not asking for anything D1." __________________________ The entire zoning map was just redrawn in 2009. Why would a planning commissioner be thanking Fitzsimmons for not taking advantage of the zoning just enacted 4 years ago? Basically, "Thank you for NOT following our new guidelines." It's obviously a well-oiled machine. Imagine if ALL zoning were drawn to enhance the surrounding neighborhoods? Imagine if it were Greenfield Partners of Greenwich, CT. developing this lot.

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 11:35 a.m.

Ann Arbor's For Sale


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

All real estate is for sale, this is about what the buyer does with it.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

It's almost as if the mayor is a realtor or something.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 11:18 a.m.

He (Fitzsimmons) says there is a huge demand for single floor living. Are these condos single floor living? Elevators? If so, they will sell fast.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 10:59 a.m.

For the building on Fourth, do the garage entrances still face Fourth or did the developer move them to the back of the building, accessible off the parking lot? (The latter would be greatly preferable IMO.)


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 10:43 a.m.

Affordable housing! Affordable housing! Affordable housing! I had to make sure it got on this page somewhere, because building is mentioned. But seriously, I thought anything with 10 units had to have affordable housing options. Not so?