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Posted on Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Top 5: Questions Ann Arbor should consider about impact of downtown development

By Paula Gardner

Residential construction looks like the latest growth industry in Ann Arbor as the city witnesses construction, project openings - and a stream of proposed new developments that range from additions to 14-story towers.

Last week, two more proposals joined the lineup: One above Pizza House and the other at Huron and Division, a pair that combines to create space for 296 residents downtown.


Joseph Tobianski |

Ann Arbor just watched 959 new residents move downtown as three apartment buildings opened as the fall semester started at the University of Michigan.

When I step back and compile totals on all new bedrooms built in the last few years and now proposed for downtown, the city has housing for 2,600 new downtown residents in its pipeline.

That number can change, based on what’s actually approved - and then built.

But I also find the number staggering, based on both history and the pace of change sought by Ann Arbor when it tried to tackle adding density to the core city.

From the 1990 census to the 2000 census, downtown added 274 households to its mix, according to Downtown Development Authority reports. During that time, the downtown population changed from 2,653 to 2,804 - a gain of 151 residents.

Fueling the changes were projects like The Armory, which added 13 condos to downtown when it was converted to residential units in 1998.

By 2005, the Downtown Residential Task Force set goals for adding downtown population to support its businesses and sense of vitality.

Those goals seemed aggressive at the time: 1,000 new housing units by 2015, and 2,500 by 2030.

That was the time of condo proposals, when $400,000-plus price tags kept many out of the market for downtown housing. The market, it seemed would pace itself, since the pool of buyers was limited and that was the only housing style that could support the costs of new construction.

Fast forward to today, and we sit in a town that added about a thousand residents to downtown within weeks last summer. While the ‘housing units’ now can be counted as bedrooms, given the number of student apartments built in town, the number of downtown residents seems to be growing exponentially - and if the pace continues, Ann Arbor will far eclipse its stated goal for downtown growth.

That makes me think - as I consider how many more developers likely are making plans for still more projects downtown - that it’s time for Ann Arbor to step back and consider the impact of the change.

Here are my top 5 questions for Ann Arbor to consider as our downtown housing expands.

  1. Are all residents created equal? Student housing is rising over our city now because there’s a market for it. But the effects of that market will be felt in the traffic patterns of those young residents: Where they go in town, how they spend their money and what types of stores cater to them will shape the essence of downtown. In 2004, as the city started to consider changing South University zoning to allow high-rises, officials noted that South University no longer catered to the average resident or to a visitor over the age of 21. It was perceived as a problem. We have a chance to integrate the new businesses chasing the student spending into an overall downtown mix, and create more of a university district and less of a “student ghetto.” This is also a chance to ask whether there are city policies in place that make non-student oriented development as appealing from the approval and zoning points of view.
  2. What’s the saturation point on student housing? Some people say the market for better-quality and amenity-driven student housing is endless. I’m more cautious, after witnessing the condo market downtown result in too many failed projects. We may not see another Great Recession in our lifetime - and this building boom is driven by private money building on appropriately zoned property. However, residents and property owners in Ann Arbor should be asking: What happens to these buildings when the rental market changes? And how do they adapt if the financials no longer work?
  3. How can we use this building boom to fill unmet need downtown? I’ve never been part of the “downtown needs a grocery” crowd, but totaling up the number of new residents does beg the question of whether we finally can support one. Or another entertainment venue. A successful public space. Or even a hotel.
  4. What climate are we creating for independent retailers? When we talk about downtown, it’s the small stores that often are the focal points of our conversation. What we value downtown is its uniqueness, and that’s created from independents succeeding alongside chains -whether Kilwins or Starbucks. A lot of the housing change in Ann Arbor is accompanied by higher retail rental rates, and the city can’t control that. But independents include those selling in the farmer’s market or even from carts on corners, so the city can have some influence in the mix. I’d like to see what else it can come up with, especially with city-owned lots coming onto the market.
  5. What does downtown mean to residents who don’t live downtown? Every story that we do about downtown parking or retail will generate some comments along this theme: “We don’t come downtown anymore.” The city’s attention to downtown resulted in a clear vision for how it would benefit the district. But the rapid change also signals a need to consider how the rest of us view downtown, and whether more of us could spend more time here, too. Housing sprawl and the “rim” retail development within and beyond the city limits combine to create a range of competing destinations. But would Ann Arbor be further strengthened if more residents considered downtown a vital component of life here?

Paula Gardner is Local Content Director of She can be reached by email . Follow her on Twitter.



Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

There's a few major problems for attracting new people to move into downtown . The first one I think is the most obvious and that's the domination of the U of M students and the U its self. Don't get me wrong, the students aren't that bad but an area filled with college kids will automatically make some people not consider it an area to live. The second is the price, I for one am not willing to pay more than a house payment for an apartment. I understand that location is everything and so any type of apartment downtown would appeal to students and not to young professionals and non-student residence. I think this is starting to become a problem because looking at the pricing, $1200 + for a 1 bedroom, it's going to start pricing out the students. And if the students are still living there who's going to want to move into an apartment where it's a yearly influx of students, and where many students have lived before? The third part is something that I think the developers overlooked, other than students and people who work locally who's going to want to live in an apartment downtown? There's no appeal to people who would commute outside Ann Arbor. It's as though the only people in mind for these new swanky apartments are students who they're starting to price out and the slim percentage of young professionals who don't mind college kids and work locally. I personally don't think there's really a market for them, epically at the prices they're charging.

Joe Baublis

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:41 a.m.

Here's some new issues for you all. The UM is part of the State government. A UM economist explained to me that there is a very real effect on Ann Arbor property values as a result of UM housing developments - downward. The private sector is essentially competing against the State. Guess who wins. And I don't think the UM is planning to comply with local housing codes, which our private landlords must do. You see, in socialism the government is excluded from equality. Now if the Ann Arbor socialists were at all interested in their little slice of the pie, they'd vote against the UM democrat regents because republican regents would promote private sector housing instead of UM State government housing. Why is private sector housing better for Ann Arbor socialists? Because private housing provides taxes, and allows the socialist inspectors to have control over the housing. BTW the UM is already leasing pads for private sector businesses to entertain students. Ann Arbor should expect the UM to compete successfully for student business. Next, consider the United Nation's so-called "agenda 21". Surprise! Agenda 21 is pushing for higher urban population densities. It's easier to control people in defined herds, and easier to collect taxes. Lovely. Next up, the real estate bubble has not concluded it's collapse, because the FED is holding interest rate down, and now buying up real estate paper. But Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County should be preparing for housing value decline. Public sector debts will be secured to real estate and ultimately federal interest rate will go up, and these forces will decrease real estate values. The UM won't care because they'll go right on charging rent. But local property owners will care - because their property taxes will go up, and local government will care because their assessments will decline and that leads to further debt. Paula needs to ask more questions.


Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 11:34 p.m.

I have no objection to most of that, other then your apparent believe that people who can't afford to live in AA should be granted come kind of economic visa. On the contrary, people who cannot afford to live near where they work can easily commute from Ypsilanti, more rural communities or even Detroit. The other key to viable cities in this era is expensive, permanent rail based mass transit. Buses are cheap - which is why weak, clueless politicians like them - but they come and go and are flatly rejected by the vast tax paying majority who have a choice of transit methods. Without light rail, the city is a series of islands accessible only by cars that need a parking space every day. The more successful the city becomes, the more commuting and the worse the traffic becomes.


Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

Pt. 2 (I hate it when I can't finish my thought due to your arbitrary character limits!) This also goes a ways in explaining why the asteroid belts surrounding the city, with their many acres of blacktop parking and gigantic shopping warehouses are such miserable places to be. If she were still around, she'd be able to explain why cities which make little, to no, compensation for the automobile are much more livable cities than those that were designed FOR the automobile. Think of the difference between Paris or Amsterdam, and Detroit. Also when those cities DO NOT work well, it is often because of the compensations made FOR the automobile. Ann Arbor often errs to the wrong side when it comes to compensating for the car at the expense of effective public transport (Jacobs was no particular fan of public transport, either)...


Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

Pt. 1 Paula, You might enjoy reading "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jane Jacobs. Regarded, by the New Urbanists, as the groundbreaking (no pun intended) examination of why cities work and why they don't. Ann Arbor is a very livable city for reasons Jacobs would well have understood. BUT... it is not easy to maintain the balance that makes a city lively and well-functioning. Jacobs identified four majors needs for a city- and they'd not be things you would normally consider. 1. There must be maintained a sufficient diversity of uses at all hours of the day and night around at least one, but better two or more primary functions- such as city government, residential, street level shopping, etc. This is very hard to maintain when all development comes in at the same (high) price point. 2. Blocks must be short so opportunities to turn corners are frequent. Downtown is blessed in this regard. 3. The district must maintain buildings that vary in age and condition. This is to maintain the varying economic yield they must produce so that lower-level commerce can be maintained as well. (This is where Ann Arbor is starting to get into trouble, I think). 4. There must be sufficiently dense concentration of people, for whatever reason they may be there, including residence. This is where having the students comingling becomes important. For sidewalk safety to be maintained, there must be continuous and regular sets of eyes watching the sidewalks. Sidewalks must be an active, permeable membrane where all sorts of activities are made welcome. This is why Main Street is often regarded as one of the best streets in the country. The sidewalk is a place people like to be. Jacobs goes to great lengths to explain why sidewalks are so important.

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 11:02 a.m.

To the downtown business owner--you might want to speak to your friends at the DDA. The move to one hour blocks for structure parking fees means if you are parked for 61 minutes you pay for two hours. You should be lobbying for a change in this or expect a backlash and fewer customers. Because the DDA obviously isn't looking our for YOU.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 11:54 p.m.

Item 5 seeks answers to what I ask every time, and have never heard a good answer to: Why should people who don't own downtown property care more about downtown than any other part of the city. To me, the fact remains--and this is true of any city, not just a2--that there is no reason. Downtowns in cities with multiple commercial districts are no more important that those other districts, except to property owners and the public employees who are enamored with the thought that downtowns are some sort of magic place in their SimCity existence. Most people want certain things--food, entertainment, etc.--to give their lives flavor, but really couldn't care less about the geography of where they're obtained.


Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

Really. Without that downtown where are you going to go to get your artisanal pickles and such?


Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 3:46 a.m.

Dead on: we all love the ambience of a quick visit to a strip mall for some poorly made overseas products so we can return quickly to our indistinguishable track houses and press on towards our goal of early onset diabetes.

Jamie Pitts

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 7:09 p.m.

Answering #5, parking is actually very good downtown. People should not complain about having to go into a parking high-rise or down below, because there are so many of us who want to be there. The entrances to the parking garages are not obnoxious and are often pedestrian-sensitive. However, the curved concrete border crossing thing next to the library is about as bad as it gets. I think that an unanswered consideration for #5 is pedestrian flow. There are several no-go dead-zones downtown. We all know where they are, because we all avoid going to these places. Connect places together, create public spaces that are open and encourage foot traffic, and do so with the help of the eateries and shops. Jane Jacobs believed a lot in depending on shopkeepers, restauranteurs, and the people on the ground to police the city. We should take a look at the dead zones and create lines of flow for the major groups of people who are downtown (whether we like them or not).


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

With the ghastly new buildings in Ann Arbor like that thing at Ashley and Huron, One North Main and most recently Zaragon and City Hall, my priorities would be (in this order) 1. Aesthetics. 2. Aesthetics. 3. Aesthetics. 4. Aesthetics 5. Aesthetics. Honestly, we have a historic commission that spends days deliberating about a paint color or door choice, then the city approves huge scale projects that are constructed of cheap materials and just plain uninspiring. At least the U of M has some taste!


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

AA is a highly regulated City with socialist requirements that screw up developers, such as high fees and market rate housing. Those alone make building anything attractive difficult. Secondly, aesthetics cannot be "regulated" because they are subjective and require talented, experienced, trusted judgment - something AA is not set up to deal with. Aesthetics are harmed when large amounts of cash that should be spent on the building are diverted into pet AA requirements like discount housing for those who cannot afford to live there.....our "most vulnerable citizens." YAK! It's not just that UM has great taste, but they are not subject to insane socialist regulations created by the City that dumb down the City. Then there is the unexplainable – AA developers seem to have no problem hiring lousy architectural firms from out of town who design garbage when we have some of the best are right here.

Jamie Pitts

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

I can't agree with you more! It is hard to understand the dearth of aesthetics that afflicts large-scale developers. And I don't want to hear their excuses about costs; are the developers in Barcelona or Paris or London not able make a profit? And what is really different now than when places like Main Street in A2 or even Chicago's Magnificent Mile were created? Markedly cheaper building materials costs is one of them, so there must be some room for some tappings. I do appreciate the improvement to the structure of the buildings, though. At least the architects and builders now understand that people are not utility-maximizing automatons who want to sleep in one place, work somewhere else, shop somewhere else. Kudos for that! Now if they could just put a something memorable on their slabs, hire their artistic nieces and nephews if they have to.

say it plain

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

How could we expect retail to do anything but cater to student residents if most of the new housing is filled with student residents?! I'd expect more businesses like insomnia cookies and such... And a supermarket would do so very well and be so very useful downtown, I just don't get why some chain or other hasn't worked this out.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

Sounds like a political war is coming not between Democrats and Republicans but between Downtowners and "Rim" residents. The city seems focused on Downtown and ignoring the "Rimmers"


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

Are there any republicans left in Ann Arbor anymore? I think they all moved to Dexter, Chelsea ans Saline years ago.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

As with most AA residents, the market economics confuses you. What it does and how it does it is a mystery. With a socialist in the White House wasting trillions of dollars on failed central planning schemes, largely rewarding his campaign supporters by borrowing money from China, there is even more confusion. When City governments play obama socialist at the local level, trying to tightly regulate business with zoning, they often mess up their own economies for decades. 1. Are all residents created equal? This is for the market to decide. 2. What's the saturation point on student housing? This is for the market to decide. 3. How can we use this building boom to fill unmet need downtown? Because of the new parking structure and additional housing, very little quality lease space remains on the market. Study the Borders building and other recent deals. The market will decide. Clearly the market demands another hotel but local owners who know AA politics have worked successfully defeated the market so far and blocked any new hotel development – bad news for consumers. 4. What climate are we creating for independent retailers? "We" are not "creating markets" for retailers. "We" support zoning that puts bodies in the City and the rest of up to them. Again, central planning obama socialism ALWAYS FAILS. So-called "independent businesses" may be cute but if they can't serve a market they cannot survive. 5. What does downtown mean to residents who don't live downtown? This is a largely irreverent question in this country. This is a strange piece and the questions are well intended but miss many of the real issues. You should interview a professional planner who can identify the real issues for you.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

Which well-planned cities are you referring to?


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 3 a.m.

Vast majority of American Cities - especially those that were well planned and have vibrant economies - maintain their value and are doing fine. Detroit and cities like it are the exception and the reasons for their decades-long trauma are the result of much more powerful forces then City planning. Bell Isle was beautifully planned but that has not saved it from those forces. Planners have caused spectacular failures but there successes, even at their best, can only do so much.


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.

Plainer: I am here to introduce many to reality they would not otherwise experience but there is so much to undo. Some days it hardly seems worth the amusement. Jim: I was referring to our use of vehicles – universal transit. In many countries, getting to the City is a big deal – here it is a non-issue – people move around on a whim and are free to live anywhere they can afford. Timj: I did not write that urban planners were socialists – I wrote that they face some of the same problems as socialists and fail for some of the same reasons – all true. You are right about the foundation of suburban planning but for many decades, the Garden City has been little more then a footnote in most planning classes. They reference much more contemporary examples of urban and suburban planning that are more relevant to our challenges. European planning is much different then in the US for dozens of reasons – certainly history, economics, politics, energy and transit are fundamental. Your appraisal of the City-Suburb dynamic seems to miss the fact that the vast majority of US cities


Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

He's right about planners being failures but he's wrong about the reason. It's not "socialist" planners that screw things up. It's a particular school of thought that took hold at exactly the wrong point in history and it mostly had to do with what a terrible place London was perceived to be at the time. Look up Ebeneezer Howard and the "Radiant Garden City" movement. He saw how the downside of industrialization was demoralizing and degrading life in London and thought the solution was to repopulate the countryside. The idea of the "suburb" was born. This remained (and still does to an extent) as the governing ideology of urban planning curriculum for the following century. As you can imagine, it was very popular with American developers (capitalists), and the selling of the suburbs took off and the cities declined. So rather than fixing what was already there, developers saw in this ideology that much more money was there to be made in building from scratch. Capitalism. Not Socialism.

Jim Osborn

Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

"5. What does downtown mean to residents who don't live downtown? This is a largely irreverent question in this country. " I do not live downtown, but I visit there many times a week, go to church there, stores, dining. You are wrong.

say it plain

Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 2:48 a.m.

Why do we read anything but what @shepard145 tells us? He knows everything, we, nothing...he tells us so with each post lol. And tells us little else, btw.... Well, except that he must consume a lot of right-wing radio programming. Are his comments irreverent, or irrelevant?


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

You're asking questions - that's a good first step. You've confused two different types of planning. Central planning Socialists like your hero obama kill economies because, like communists, they try to plan markets. They require manufacture of solar panels, wind turbines, ethanol, etc., by setting quotas, despite that fact that these products make no rational sense to consumers. ..but they make sense to the GOVERNMENT, who arrogantly believes it knows what the little people (VOTERS) need. That fails because regardless of what companies the government creates, consumers will reject products we don't want. ....and like Solyndra, those companies go bankrupt, taking billions in taxpayer dollars with them. That is why obama's attack on the coal industry, killing off economical energy, is so dangerous - consumers will eventually have only high priced energy sources to choose from. As always, VOTERS PAY the price. Government lackeys sitting at a desk in DC try to dictate consumer needs with political policy - that always fails. ...since you are just trying to heat your home. Professional Urban Planners are much different but face some of the same problems as socialists. They try to balance community priorities with the needs of the businesses/residents whose existence makes that community possible. ..and by the way, City Government is part of the process as well - they can ignore even the best planning advice and often do. Urban Planners are much better today then in the past but it's been a painful process. Those practicing in the 60,s, 70's and 80's especially, often made HUGE mistakes that some City's like AA are still trying to recover from but many will be stuck with for a century or longer.

Ed Kimball

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

Why should I interview a "professional planner" if "planning ... ALWAYS FAILS"?


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

PART 2 Cities never wish for fewer people down town! People are the life of any City and college towns simply adapt to the cyclical population demands. Bedroom communities were a planning disaster created by 60's era professional planners who failed to understand the interaction between cities, cars and consumers. Many US cities are still EMPTY after 6:00pm and on weekends – a disaster that takes decades to fix. Good for AA that they are trying. Next step will be to build transit that those with and without cars will embrace almost equally ....and that is NOT more buses. Light Rail is AA's next big challenge that would bring quality of life in and around the City to the next level. Unfortunately, I don't think we have the leadership that can make that happen in our lifetimes.


Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

Ah, the Radiant Garden City! It looked great on paper... to developers, anyway.

Wolf's Bane

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

1. Are all residents created equal? No. Wealthy students and their parents seeking an investment will buy a condo or two, live or rent them out for 4-6 years and then put them back on the market in the hopes of making a profit. So, by building and encouraging these large developments, you've effectively narrowed your buyer to the top 25% of consumers. 2. What's the saturation point on student housing? Without actual facts and figures this is a bit difficult to answer, no? However, based on recent realtor reports, we have quite a few vacancies in existing large-scale developments, so the answer here is most likely yes. However, that never stopped Ann Arbor from allowing large-scale projects to go forward in spite of damaging property values, just look at the records dating back to the 80s and that "housing boom." 3. How can we use this building boom to fill unmet need downtown? You can't. It is a closed loop. Developers build to make money, Ann Arbor permits these buildings, so the city's administration can get a cut and add it to city coffers. Parks and other public gathering areas such as theaters, pavilions don't generate profits for either, so no need green space in downtown. 4. What climate are we creating for independent retailers? Restaurateurs and boutique type shop owners will have to fight harder to attract the upscale tastes of the top 25% of consumers that call the city home. The average Ann Arborite will continue to shop outside of downtown where prices and the product offerings are cheaper and more diversified. You cannot buya nail or a hammer in downtown Ann Arbor. That is a problem! 5. What does downtown mean to residents who don't live downtown? Walking into town since traffic and parking will continue to become more impassible and snarled; one cannot continue to build these large-scale projects and not upgrade the city's infrastructure that has remained largely unchanged!


Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

2. What's the saturation point on student housing? Answer: Yes. ??


Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

Hey Wolf, Can't you get nails & hammers at either Jack's Hardware or Fingerle Lumber? Both easy walking/biking distance of anyone downtown. You can find anything and everything you need downtown, you just have to think outside the 'big' box.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

Wolfie - thank you for raising the spectre of infrastructure. Can our roads, water & sewage, trash removal all be kept (raised?) at the appropriate level for the increase in downtown residents. All key questions that need to be answered.

Brian Kuehn

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

I tend to get a bit nervous when a "boom" is occurring, like our current downtown housing boom. Inevitably the developers get it wrong and whatever is hot is over-built. My hope is that some day we don't have a bunch of empty, foreclosed or under-utilized apartment high rises dotting the downtown. Prior to being re-developed into Courthouse Square, the former Sheraton sat empty for a long time.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

$1100-$1600+ per bed per month (Zaragon West) housing is aimed at very few students. With all the recent upscale housing recently completed or nearing completion, i would suspect that particular market is saturated.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

As a downtown shop owner I notice when someone leaves a "we don't shop downtown anymore". Granted some of those people will likely never come downtown for various reasons other than the standand parking issues. Parking signs in some of the lots are confusing, as meters are different in different towns, I've had to explain them too many times to out of towners, elderly and non english speakers how to use the meters. People feed the meters passed 6 and then get mad that they just put in more dollars than they needed to and they are pissed there is no longer rollover time left from someone else. handicap parking is more difficult for several of my customers. The city a couple of years ago had free parking days close to the holidays. They should do that again to re-generate interest in downtown shops. AATA could also hand out some "holiday" passes that are good for shoppers to use. The LINK was underused sadly, but there has to be a way to link up the shopping districts during the holidays at least. Even if you only do it from Black Friday to Christmas Eve. They could offer it for $1 a ride or a one day link pass for $2 to encourage people to hop on and off of it for an afternoon of shopping. I have a number of customers who don't come down as often as they did in years passed sighting the number of panhandlers. Sure downtown has more residents, and maybe an actual resident of ann arbor and not a student is likely to be a good pedestrian. It is difficult to navigate downtown with all the one ways with jaywalkers all over if it is your first time to ann arbor. Maybe a please don't jaywalk campaign (read tweets to students) is as important as use one of the new water bottle stations and get downtown campaigns by the city.

Jim Osborn

Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 11 a.m.

There is a shortage of handicapped parking, creating "difficulties" for those who truely need them, since the city does not enforce the handicapped parking laws on Sundays. We have 2 handicapped parking spaces outside of our church, located on Thompson next to the Maynard Parking structure, and I often see young UM studemts park there and walk away. Then, those in wheelchairs or who use walkers must park several levels up in the structure. Even if police are called, enforcement is "iffy" and these scoflaws know it. I'm sure that they are more motivated to go to church than to shop at a retail store on a weekend. Is this a result of artwork being more important than most other things? "Don't jaywalk? Oh no, just ticket the car...


Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 2:41 a.m.

you bring up some really good constructive ideas. I wish more people knew that the parking garages are cheaper by the hour than the meters. Now that the new garage is open there are plenty of garage spaces. I would hate for downtown to be a "student only" area -- with more permanent residents priced out. I feel as if it is almost at that point now.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

Excellent, Paula, thanks. You are asking the right questions. Any information on how well the currently open projects are doing? Fully leased?

Paula Gardner

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

Both Zaragon West and Landmark are advertising for fall 2013, and Zaragon West says it still has units available. City Place also is advertising units still available, with pricing specials.

Paula Gardner

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

I'm going to add the North Campus housing additions to our list for enterprise reporting - that will be interesting to look at.I find it fascinating that UM has so much property in that area, and so much potential to make changes because of it. When I was a student, housing on North Campus felt like the dark side of the moon. Talking about the development numbers in downtown does raise the question whether the new housing is attracting new residents. I tried to keep this piece focused on "new to downtown," with the DDA boundaries defining downtown. According to the 2010 census, the city lost 90 residents from 2000 to 2010. But the number of housing units in the city jumped by 2,571. The average household size fell to 2.17 persons per household.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 8 p.m.

A few cities are suffering the fewer kids problem - we have to realize Ann Arbor will never exceed 150k residents - unless it annexes parts of Scio, AnnArbor, Lodi or Pits townships.


Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 11:30 a.m.

Paula - I have to wonder, since the census does a poor job of gathering data on students, if the numbers were not higher from 1990-2000. The UofM added some (not much) capacity to the dorms and more houses were converted to rentals - which in most cases raises the number of people living in them. Maybe I am wrong, but I don't think the number changed as dramatically as you think. In 1990 the UofM had a total full time enrollment of 36,107 in 2000 that number was 38,103 and in 2010 the number was 39,466. Most of these full time students live in or around campus - but within the city limits of Ann Arbor. I actually see the trend in North Campus housing - both on and off campus as a bigger change than downtown.