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Posted on Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Mayor says Ann Arbor is legally protected against more student high-rises during zoning review

By Ryan J. Stanton


The Varsity student high-rise on Washington Street in downtown Ann Arbor is nearing completion. This was as it looked on June 7.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Ann Arbor officials have been saying for months they'd like to avoid seeing any more apartment high-rises built downtown that cater to University of Michigan students.

Instead of dorm-style buildings with sometimes five or six beds in each apartment, they want more housing for young professionals and others who prefer one- and two-bedroom units and studios.

City officials are just getting started on a review of the downtown zoning and haven't made any changes yet, but the mere fact that they've publicly stated it's their intention to move in that direction gives the city some legal ground to stand on in the interim, said Mayor John Hieftje.


John Hieftje

"It protects us from somebody coming in with a new student building," he said. "We have the ability to say, 'Wait a minute, we informed everybody we were looking at this zoning, you're going to have to abide by the new zoning, whatever that is.' So that's really important."

As the city's Planning Commission works to review the city's downtown zoning and report back to the City Council by Oct. 1, Hieftje thinks the city is in a good position because of that.

City Attorney Stephen Postema agreed the city has made its intentions clear about the rezoning effort.

"So anybody coming in to do a project is on notice the zoning may be changed — it's public knowledge out there," he said. "It would prevent somebody from coming in and saying they were unaware there would be a potential change and making arguments on those grounds."

The newer D1 and D2 zoning for the downtown — which imposed new height limits ranging from 60 to 180 feet — resulted from the multi-year Ann Arbor Discovering Downtown process. A public evaluation of the A2D2 zoning changes that were adopted in 2009 begins this week.

The goal of the A2D2 Evaluation Project is to have a constructive discussion about what works as far as downtown zoning, what doesn't work, and possible changes.

A series of interviews, focus groups, public events and online surveys are planned through September to engage residents, businesses, employees and downtown property owners.

Hieftje said the upcoming zoning changes could, just as a possible example, limit the number of three- and four- bedroom units to maybe 10 percent of a building.

"So that's really going to mean future development in the downtown area will be more focused on young adults, empty nesters, young families who might want to live there," he said.

Some of the student apartment buildings that have gone up around the downtown in recent years offer a large number of four-, five- and six-bedroom apartments.

The 14-story high-rise planned for the northeast corner of Division and Huron streets — known as the 413 E. Huron project — prompted the review of the downtown zoning.

Hieftje said he's not too worried about that building since almost 60 percent of the units will be comprised of one- and two-bedroom units, and there's nothing bigger than a four-bedroom.

He's also hopeful there will be a number of apartments for young professionals and empty nesters with two other projects coming online — the 618 South Main apartment project and Ann Arbor City Apartments, the high-rise going in across from the Blind Pig at First and Washington.

Some wanted the City Council to approve a six-month moratorium on development and halt the 413 E. Huron project while the Planning Commission reviewed the downtown zoning. Hieftje said that would would have sent a signal nationwide that Ann Arbor was "closed for business."

As part of the upcoming zoning review, members of the public will be asked through Aug. 16 what issues should be addressed in the evaluation. After that time, options for changes to the A2D2 zoning will be evaluated and revised for final presentation to the City Council in October.

The A2D2 zoning amendments were adopted in coordination with amendments to the city's Downtown Plan. At the time of adoption, the Planning Commission and City Council agreed that the ordinance should be evaluated after one year.

"Given the slow economy, this evaluation was deferred, but recent downtown development interest has prompted concern that the ordinance may be encouraging development that is inconsistent with the Downtown Plan objectives," the city stated in a news release.

Two public focus group meetings will be held the last week of July. The first one takes place 8-9:30 a.m. July 29 at Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. Fourth Ave. The second one takes place 7-8:30 p.m. July 30 at city hall, 301 E. Huron St., in the basement conference room.

Other opportunities to get involved in the A2D2 Evaluation Project:

  • A public workshop 7-8:30 p.m. Aug. 5 in the basement conference room of the Washtenaw County Building, 200 N. Main St. to review and prioritize issues identified in the focus groups.
  • "Community Coffees" with consultants to hear community views, held at Zingerman's Community Table, 422 Detroit St., from 8-10 a.m. July 25, Aug. 1 and Aug. 8.
  • Future online surveys at A2 Open City Hall.

Updates will be posted at the A2D2 website. A link to sign up for email updates can be found by clicking on the red envelope icon on the site.

The Planning Commission's Ordinance Revisions Committee is overseeing the process. ENP & Associates, a planning consulting firm based in Ann Arbor, was hired to facilitate the process with assistance from the city's planning and development services staff.

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.



Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 3:36 a.m.

I have no opinion on the zoning issues, but the "rise" of high rises is disconcerting. When I was at U-M 20 plus years ago most kids lived in similarly crappy dorm rooms or apartments. There wasn't a physical barrier between wealthy kids and middle/working class kids. Having sub-par housing pushed students to study at libraries and hang out outside of their residences. My sense is that the trend is that better-off students will wall themselves off from the campus as a whole. That's their right, obviously, but I wonder if it will impact the social climate at the University.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

They will wring their hands and fold up at the first developer threat to sue as they always have.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

But who will protect us from the unelected DDA? Is there a super hero or patron saint for that?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:23 p.m.

I lived in a high rise dorm at Indiana University. It was on campus. At IU, there is the IU Campus, and the town of Bloomington. They are completely separate. That's the difference. The U of M is sprawled all over Ann Arbor. I was accepted at UofM, and several Ivy League schools. I thought the U of M campus was ugly, and too urban. I chose IU because I fell in love with the campus, the Art Dept. was superb, and the dorms were all very comfortable and well kept. AND there were no cars allowed on campus. Vassar was my second choice. I had the luxury to choose any college (because all offered full ride swimming scholarships) I really think ALL dorms should be on campus only.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 8:06 p.m.

EyeHeart...I do sense some sarcasm here...Yep. I am proud of my resume'. I swam on my Club swim team starting at age 6. I started swimming double-days year round at age 9. I worked extremely hard swimming for 5 hours a day from then until College, when I swam even longer hours while maintaining a 4.0 average. My point was this: Ann Arbor has been allowing the U of M to run the town for many years. And Football runs the University. Ann Arbor has this problem because they allowed it to happen. Period.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:39 p.m.

Nice resume'. You must be very proud.

Tom Joad

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 9:16 p.m.

The new Varsity high-rise totally ruined the view of the adjacent building. It also created a veritable canyon between the two buildings which are uncomfortably close to each other. Who would want to live on either side where your view is the building 20 feet away? You have ZERO privacy, talk about life in a fishbowl. Can't see either building renting out all those apartments on those sides.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

The Varsity should have never been allowed. On Huron it is so close to the street that a pedestrian and a person driving out of the garage will not see each other. It is also incredibly cheap looking and ugly. An architectural disgrace ....


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 10:33 p.m.


John Henry

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 8:40 p.m.

For years I heard A2 residents wish that we would build "up" instead of "out". Save our green land and farm land..let's just build "up" in the city. Ok, now that's been happening. Be happy!


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 10:33 p.m.



Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

Show me 5 addresses in the student ghetto that have reverted back to non student rental. Total wishful thinking by the mayor and marketing babble by realtors. THEY want you to think it's happening but it totally is not. Landlords and property managers just laugh at these claims.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 6:13 p.m.

The place a page of the mayor's legal opinions on anything at all deserves to be is beneath the canary, which is one strike against internet news delivery.

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

Just for some added clarification, when the mayor said the upcoming zoning changes could possibly limit the number of three- and four- bedroom units to 10% of a building, he said he meant to include anything over two bedrooms in that statement. He said that also could be structured so it's a 10% limit on three-bedrooms and no four-, five- or six-bedrooms, (though he acknowledged there could be a PUD proposed where a four-bedroom is included.) He also said he doesn't have a problem with the student high-rises that have gone up already because families are moving into some of the neighborhood homes that students have moved out of. Has anybody in a near-downtown neighborhood noticed examples of that happening?

Steve Bean

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

And, more importantly (and seriously), good point. It reminds me of how long they dragged their feet in developing a policy for granting property tax abatements. I wouldn't hold your breath, though--they don't seem to bother referring to that policy when the situation arises anyway.

Steve Bean

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

"If the City places" Subtle, Tom, but I caught it. :-)

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 6:35 p.m.

No. The City has dragged it's feet for almost five years on changes that would make the near-downtown and campus neighborhoods more stable and less threatened by out-of-scale development. City Place and other over-sized projects that combine multiple lots and pack students into 6-bedroom apartments are no less likely to be built now than they were four years ago. That hardly gives families and young working people the confidence to invest in these neighborhoods by buying a former rental house and fixing it up to live in. If the City places no value on the existing housing stock in these character-defining old neighborhoods, why should home buyers?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

I am happy to hear this, regardless of political motivations. What's done is done. Please just no more ugly high rises, built in the aesthetic of the classic "McMansion," with Tim Hortons and 7-11 serving as their pillars.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

EyeHeartA2 Sorry I often disagree with you, but you asked the perfect question here. Once the (potential) green areas are build there is no going back. You can always upgrade a Tim Hortons. We are also totally dependent (I also Heart A2) on the U of M and their undergrads. They're not going to The Gandy Dancer at midnight.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

Wasn't here for the Greenbelt issue, but I always vote against fattening, fake food and nasty coffee.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:28 p.m.



Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

"There are more than two options. It isn't just "greenbelt" vs. "butt-ugly high rises"." Sure - good looking high rises or "I got mine, you can't have yours" are two other options, I suppose. ...but that doesn't answer the question now, does it?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

There are more than two options. It isn't just "greenbelt" vs. "butt-ugly high rises".


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

Did you vote for or against the greenbelt?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Are Ann Arborites being a bit skitzoid: voting for a green belt to limit sprawl and more downtown parking and then wringing their hands when greater density happens?

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 6:43 p.m.

No one got to vote for or against the new parking structure (or the city hall addition). I believe it is contradictory for the Mayor and others to support the greenbelt while also pushing for things like countywide bus transit, regional commuter trains (paid for with Ann Arbor tax money), and thousands of new parking spaces downtown--all things that make it easier and more desirable to live in the boonies instead of somewhere closer to the urban core. Instead, they should be spending money and energy on things that make it more desirable to live in the city--things like services (including police and fire), street trees, parks, and intra-city transit.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

Thinker Thank you for the logic. Amen. Density is necessary for students and for limiting sprawl. Lamenting 7-11s while benefitting from being in a college town is also weird.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

Another proactive politician! Way to be out front on an issue and grab the bulls by the horns so the Ann Arbor skyline and downtown cozy town stays architecturally consistent and functional. "on notice...." Seriously. They bought the property years ago, and I see no legal notice that they need to worry about. You are way late on this one Ann Arbor.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

Up or out, which do you want? Oh, wait, the citizens of the smartest city in the country already decided that with the green belt. I can't wait for the next bus tour to go see what we bought.

Steve Bean

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

The followup question is, "how high?", and the answer isn't necessarily, "as high as possible".


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 1:07 a.m.

Sorry Brad, but no, it isn't. If you don't allow out, you have to allow up (or nothing). Yes there are some areas that can still be built, but AA is landlocked. We cannot annex anything beyond what was agreed to many years ago. So up or out and out is "out". Other suggestions only delay the final result some. If the occupancy rate of the high rises is unacceptable, nobody will build them anymore - but they keep being built, so it must be acceptable. Either that or the "problem" goes away, right?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:23 p.m.

@DJBud is correct - it's a 100% false dichotomy.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

No, up or out IS NOT the only choice. There are neighborhood infill opportunities that are being held back by high service connection fees. Do a little research and see what the occupancy rate of these 'up' buildings is- they are too big, and not full. Also, the OUT construction continues to be allowed in the same beds per unit configurations as UP, look at the requests for apartment planning for Traverwood, Nixon, etc. Right now we have UP AND OUT, without better planning we will continue to have both, to everyones loss. There is a middle ground to be found here, life is not This OR That.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

Thank you. Up or out is exactly the choice. I'll take a green belt on the edge of town with student high rises near campus.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

This time we will be protected. In our safe city business and ask that condominiums be used by our next highrise customer


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Lemme think now . . . suppose I have, or buy, a convenience store with no present security equipment. If I announce to the public that I am "looking at" installing cameras and other security measures, to what extent might that deter criminal elements from taking a shot while they can? Should I stand back and watch the rush?

Widow Wadman

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

I think it is a fine idea to try and get families and professionals to move downtown. I am for encouraging such an effort but I see a number of complexities. A simple thing that families need however is a decent grocery store and the only one downtown is the Kroger out by Yost arena. The food stores that are more centrally located are quite pricey and offer specialty items. Maybe there could be an incentive in the revised zoning requirements for a decent-sized grocery store to be located downtown, not a tax credit but something that might encourage a grocer to locate downtown.

Widow Wadman

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

That's the Kroger. I couldn't remember the streets but knew that the hockey arena was nearby.... The food at the co-op is good but once when I wanted bananas I was aghast at the price.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 6:02 p.m.

where by Yost? I know of one off Stadium and Industrial.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

While it is a little bit expensive, the People's Food Coop is centrally located near the farmer's market.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

This is a bit late, now that we have the monstrosity on Huron that is being built and gets uglier every day and the prospect of an equally inappropriate monster down the street looms above it all. We need a real mayor, a new city attorney, and for the time being it would be nice if Ms Higgins left council. That, at least, can be done. Please vote for Jack Easton. Then, down the line, it would be nice if both new members of council, for whom residents had hope but who turned out to be part of the High-rise cabal, would end up as one term wonders. Hope springs eternal ....

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 6:52 p.m.

It's also critical for citizens to make their voices heard in this review of downtown zoning, as well as the R4C study, which has been hijacked by the "build-baby-build" planning commission. The downtown zoning review will look at areas around the perimeter of the city that are currently zoned D1, but which abut neighborhoods or historic districts. These areas, for example, the block of South Main between Packard and William, need to be down-zoned to D2 in order to buffer the neighborhoods. This is what the master plan called for, but it was ignored by Higgins, Hieftje and others along E. Huron.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

How is this any different from a few months ago, when the council approved 413 against Plannings suggestion? When the D1D2 guidelines were adopted, we were told that they would be under review, but was that review never 'officially' started? Does a press release from the city and another promise to get some community input really change our legal standing? That seems pretty baseless. I think the votes on council for 413 were essentially votes of no confidence in our city attorney, a feeling I share.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

Providing a little political cover for the upcoming election there High-Rise? Sorry, too late -- that ship sailed and will be docked at 413 E. Huron for the next hundred years. We've seen how the mayor and his posse handle the high-rise thing - all you have to do is look at the skyline. They've had their urban engineering experiment and now it's time to get back to having a nice city.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

Invasion of privacy is a policy in Ann Arbor as city building inspectors visit multi family housing units and look through closets and under the beds of occupied units.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 1:48 a.m.

with the fatal fires in congregate housing over the past few years I can't imagine complaining about the enforcement of fire and safety codes!


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 6:19 p.m.

@djm, Well, I guess I am not so smart. What is all this about baking pans and ovens?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 6 p.m.

Lest you forget that the inspector will check the oven in case there are baking pans stored there...the best thing is when I had posted a note to contact me prior to entering as I had dogs. I didn't want them upset with a stranger coming in without me there...and lo and behold the inspector tried to pet one and she nipped at him...and yet they think I'm not smart enough to store my baking pans.....


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:31 p.m.

It's true, it's too pervasive. It's as though they have a hidden agenda to search for contraband. They come every year too! Next year, i'm changing my locks. No, nosy inspector, you can't look in my closet for the fith year straight


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

Since this boom in high rise building the city has had to hire additional building inspectors just to keep up. One of the many examples of the strain this type of building puts on city infrastructure and city budgets.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

It is a plug test for proper ground-neutral-hot. The sad fact is that rentals are always at great risk of shoddy wiring changes by tenants or unqualified workers. What was proper wiring a year ago can and does change. A simple miss-wiring can be lethal. It is intrusive, and some inspectors (and landlords!) are nosey. But it serves an important need, especially in a university town.

Widow Wadman

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Where else do they look? When they check the outlets are they requiring the tamper-resistant receptacles or are they just checking for proper grounding? Thanks.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

They do test all electrical outlets.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

Soothslayer, If you mean that developers realize that Ann Arbor is now saturated with highrise student residence halls and will not try to build additional ones then I hope that you are right. However, nothing prevents developers from proposing other highrise construction purely on speculation, like buildings to house all the young professionals who the mayor wants to flock to downtown Ann Arbor even though there are no jobs for them. Or empty nesters who will need to pay several times the cost for square footage as they can get in outlying neighborhoods. As long as developers get their 1% to 2% fee off the top of their multi-million dollar financings and can find investors willing to risk capital for speculative construction, massive buildings will continue to grow on any available land downtown. After all, the mayor and his "favored child" DDA hunger for more TIF revenue.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

The motivation behind this move by Hieftje is easy to understand. Um is Hieftje's boss. They tell him what to say and do. And the um is getting worried about competition for it's dorms.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

Wishful thinking. You all think of the students as some commodity that can be pigeon holed here or there. The kids like to live in a house just like you or me. Would you like to live in a highrise 6 bedroom apartment with people you don't know and no parking? The students are people, not some version of soylent green.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

The students want something affordable. Whether it's a room in a house, or a dorm, or an apartment. The location is somewhat important, but kids will walk. That said, these high rise apartments cost $1000 a month! And that is with shared living room, kitchen and bath! Trust me, if these units were more affordable, the kids would be happy to live in them. So many kids are on student loans, and they care about cost.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:57 a.m.

I was referring to the wishful thinking that the students will magically fill high rises and the "lovely old homes" will turn back into single family residences. Pure fantasy.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

Horse left the barn.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:42 a.m.

So now we are back at the point where there is no plan and developers can propose idea after idea after idea and be rejected by any one of several layers of necessary approvals for conflicting and vague reasons. Here is a look back at the process we went through. Remember the sessions where we thought we were giving input but were really being led to the conclusions the city fathers wanted? Are we sure we'll do better this time?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:36 a.m.

Let them build student high rises. Get the students into them, then return many of the lovely old homes that have been chopped in years past (to make apartments) to reasonable rentals for professionals and seniors. Serves 2 purposes, brings back a mature tenant to the neighborhood which will also increase the discretionary income that can be spent in the local stores.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 1:44 a.m.

that is my fantasy of what may happen as a result of all of this building. The UM has taken a number of large residence halls (aka dorms) off line over the past years as they have updated and renovated. When all of them are in operation perhaps some of the homes near campus could go on the market for a non-student, transient, population.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 9:51 p.m.

A lot of those houses need serious serious renovation, updating and upgrading

Jim Walker

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 8:19 p.m.

And block the ugly monstrosity tract developments like City Place - on the grounds of good taste and limiting the destruction of our heritage homes. James C. Walker, Ann Arbor

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

The neighborhoods will only come back if the City supports them by restricting over-sized developments like City Place, etc. They City needs to take positive steps to make the old neighborhoods close to campus and downtown desirable to owner-occupants again. So far, the City has only done the opposite.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.

NSider and Lizzy Your comments are right. Thank you. The lack of student housing destroyed the neighborhoods. I've been in town for 65 years and have family who tried to live in what was once a wonderful neighborhood on Cambridge. I'm glad to hear that the houses are coming back. The Old West Side is booming. It was never affected in the same way.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

I wrote a story recently that asked whether that could happen/is happening. It's a really interesting question, but some people are saying homes in the burns park/old west side areas are starting to turn back to single-family homes.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

Your idealistic expectation is not reality. The new highrise residence halls with their expensive leases have caused established community rentals to increase rent by $100 per month or more. Though many students come from affluent families who are willing to pay up to $1,700 per month to lease a room in a newly constructed building, more students are searching for less expensive housing and do not mind living in the community if it will save them money.

Maria Huffman

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:35 a.m.

I think it would be a tough situation to try to be on a lease in an apartment as a young college student, with many other college students on the same lease. After all, a five bedroom student apartment could have 5 to 10 students in it, if the students chose to double up on individual rooms. Given life as a college student, I would think twice before getting involved on such a lease. Someone or multiple roommates could end up dropping out of school, not making a payment, subletting it, property damage, etc. and the others on the lease would be liable. Having that many people on one lease is a potential headache for everyone involved when things don't go smoothly.

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

Which also means that you can be placed with strangers, or a stranger can be plopped into your apartment when one of your friends vacates. City code actually states that the only way 4 or more unrelated persons can share a unit is if they live as a single entity, with access to all parts of the unit. In other words, like a family as opposed to 4-6 strangers with deadbolt locks on their bedrooms. That is a boarding house, not a dwelling unit.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

@Soothslayer is right; the high-rises are leased per bed, and I think in most cases (if not all) that protects the roommates if someone were to drop out. Unlike the old houses -- where I lived -- where you're responsible for others!


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

All these new facilities are leased per bed. There's no doubling up the occupancy. If you break your lease your roommates aren't affected.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:10 a.m.

So, is 413 going to be marketed to students? Because I don't know a whole lot of young professionals or empty nesters who have any interest in living with a bunch of undergrads.

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

A2anon is correct. In Washington DC, for example, there are many new high rises marketed at "young professionals," but which also attract college students, summer interns and other young people who may not be so "professional." Look at the reviews on Yelp and you'll see many legit "young professionals" complaining about parties at all hours, drunks in the halls, and pot smoke. Those who have 9-5 jobs, regardless of age, are shunning these places even though most of the buildings have nothing larger than 2-bedroom units. Same goes for grad students that need quiet places to study and sleep. Townhouses or small buildings remain a more popular option for anyone above age 22 who has a normal schedule to keep.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

Conor McNally, a representative with the 413 development team, said during the approval process that it's designed to attract mostly University of Michigan graduate students and young urban professionals.

Steve Bean

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:03 a.m.

"Given the slow economy, this evaluation was deferred, but recent downtown development interest has prompted concern that the ordinance may be encouraging development that is inconsistent with the Downtown Plan objectives," the city stated in a news release. Ryan, was that from the administrator's office or the mayor's?

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 7:46 p.m.

The R4C study was announced by City Council before City Place was formally submitted for review, yet that project, which nearly every City Council member claimed they hated, was allowed to proceed regardless. Just like 413, they claimed they had no choice but to vote for it because it "met the letter of the zoning." I would be interested in knowing why the city attorney has now flip-flopped and decided that just announcing a study is enough to block a project approval.

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

I separately talked with the mayor to learn about the city apparently being protected against student high-rises during the review.

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

The press release about the upcoming evaluation process was put out by the city's communications office.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:03 a.m.

Next time, let's put more thought into this before hand.

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

Plenty of thought went into the master plan. Problem is, the City Council ignored it when it came time to implement the zoning.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

You must be new here. Not thinking things through is a proud tradition of Ann Arbor city government.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

Yeah like require a certain percentage of the developments to be held by Michigan investors so some of the profits stay in Michigan.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:02 a.m.

Noted legal expert John


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 10:53 a.m.

Hieftje said that (blocking 413 East Huron) would have sent a signal nationwide that Ann Arbor was "closed for business." So now after being raided one last time by outside capital, the Mayor says its ok to be closed for business. Master hypocrite is he. The public and any developer was already on notice after the last revision that further review and revision was slated. Had the Mayor, and Marcia Higgins, Chuck Warpahuski, Chris Taylor, Sally Peterson and Margie Teall had the courage to stand up for Ann Arbor, they would have blocked approval of 413 East Huron, using the same argument, the developer should have been on notice that review was pending. These people, mis-representing Ann Arbor, caved to secret advice that a law suit, (against which we were insured,) would be a bother to our esteemed City Attorney, and so better swallow the bitter pill.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

@Peregrine - thanks for helping "keep it real".


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

@wisecat: That's dishonest quoting. The "closed for business" was in relation to a six-month moratorium on development that was proposed.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

The Bible says, "Do not consult sooth sayers."


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

An instigated lawsuit Ann Arbor willingly brought on itself by denying a perfectly legal development would have either caused premiums to skyrocket or caused the carrier to drop Ann Arbor all together. Go fish.

A Voice of Reason

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 10:50 a.m.

I love the new student housing. It is a huge trend on college campuses because the dorms have not been updated or rebuild to appeal to student demand. Kids do not want to "camp" at college anymore, live with strange people, and for $12,000 per year for room and board, you can have a pretty nice apartment and eat what you would like. Where did all the money go that U of M has collected from students over the years to live in the dorm? Finally U of M is updating some outdated dorms vs. building for the faculty. Prioritize your customer! The "college experience" that U of M holds so dear is really more of holding students hostage in sub-par facilities. There are plenty of condo options near main street. Why limit the size of new student high rises around the campus areas?

A Voice of Reason

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:54 p.m. Here are the rates and it works out to approximately $1,375 per month for room and board over 8 months and U of M does not feed you for about a 1 month of those 8 months. This rate is for a crowded & shared 12 x 14 foot room where you can live in a luxury apartment for $1400 per month for 8 months (summer months added in) plus food. These apartments have flat screened TVs, new kitchens, living rooms, have meeting rooms, brand new exercise facilities on-site, hots tubs, etc. The kids at Michigan can afford this so why not offer this to them. Most students do not live with strangers.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

As mother of a UM grad student, who's son (don't get angry here) got his undergrad at MSU, I have to say that there is not enough variety in what the U offers for dorm rooms. MSU has enough dorms for roughly half the student population. They have special dorms for transfer students, for graduate students, singles, singles with shared cooking (refrigerator IN unit), etc etc. I love AA, and my son got a good education at UM, but seriously, they lose in "dorm wars" and in on-campus dining. I really hate the high rises. I know they are charging for location, but they are outrageous in price and the rooms are tiny in the one I saw. It seems to me that MSU has decided that the on-campus living is a profit center and are managing it accordingly by offering a lot of choice for their customers. I think UM is missing the boat in this regard. The only grad housing is apartments, and they are on North Campus.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

You still have to live with strangers in these highrises. They'll stick you in with 5 random strangers. recipe for disaster if you ask me.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:57 a.m.

The private housing operates with annual/12 month leases averaging $1000/month. The math is correct, no one was talking about anyone offering 8 month leases or doing it for less somewhere else. Most of these developments are as near the campus as one could get. Of course UM isn't going to let anyone build ON campus so why even mention that?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

What college town do you live in? The U of M has renovated every single dorm in the last 10 years or so. Every single one with the upcoming West Quad project being the last one. They even built a brand new one and closed one on north campus that couldn't be fixed.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:38 a.m.

Don't know why you say the dorms haven't been upgraded, the U just finished on dorm and just this week approved funding to upgrade another.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:22 a.m.

Poorly informed. New housing is not $12k for room AND BOARD for a year. On campus housing gives 8 month leases with room and board must cheaper.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

Are you serious? I'd have no problem with the student high rises if it were actually on CAMPUS. But it's all over the core of downtown. And businesses are trending to meet student demand. Just look at the hummus king, yogurt king nonsense on Liberty by the mich theater. I welcome this change, but I fear it's too late. By the time the current construction is done, we will be saturated.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 10:28 a.m.

About 20 years to late, but better late than never.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:02 p.m.

There's always too late. Most of these new development projects extract resources for owner groups out of state. These places don't employ more than one manager. Bottom line is more money will be leaving the state with these developments once the initial build is done.