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Posted on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Planning Commission gives OK for 53 new apartments on Ann Arbor's west side

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor Planning Commission voted 6-0 Tuesday night to approve plans for 53 new apartment units at the northwest corner of West Liberty Street and South Maple Road.

The developer's request, which picks up where a previous developer left off, now goes to the Ann Arbor City Council for final approval.


A rendering of the proposed Blue Heron Pond development.

Rendering from architect Brad Moore

The 7.8-acre site was previously planned as the 87-unit West Towne Condominiums project and was approved in 2005, but those plans expired in 2008.

Ann Arbor-based Norfolk Development Co. now wants to finish building a scaled-back version of the project, which is being called Blue Heron Pond.

Instead of condos, the development, if approved, would consist of mostly two- and three-bedroom rentals.

Jim Franke of Norfolk Development Co. previously stated rents would range from $1,500 to $1,800 per unit, which is the price range of the existing units.

An 11-unit apartment building stands on the property where developer Michael Concannon originally proposed an eight-building condo development in 2005.

Financing issues and the economic downturn stalled the project, and then lender Fifth Third Bank sold the loan to Norfolk. The existing building on the site was constructed in 2006 and was vacant until this spring when the new owner purchased the property.


These boards displayed Tuesday night show how the old project, left, differs from the new project, right.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Norfolk is requesting approval to construct 53 additional apartment units for a total of 64 units on the site, a reduction from the 87 units previously approved.

The estimated cost of construction is $4.2 million.

The nine new buildings proposed will be located around a wetland and four of them will front on West Liberty Street. The project is proposed to be phased, with the four units along Liberty and associated parking constructed first, and the remaining five buildings constructed in the second phase.

The units will range in size from 980 to 2,577 square feet.

Each unit will have a one-car attached garage and interior bicycle parking. There will be a total of 36 surface parking spaces distributed in nine small parking lots on the site.

The project's architect, Brad Moore of J Bradley Moore & Associates, told planning commissioners Tuesday night the new plan is less intensive, buildings have been downsized and open space has been increased.

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.



Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 2:24 a.m.

I can envision carefree summer twilights, safe inside our doorwalls, watching mosquitoes the size of Spitfires rise in swarms from the swamp like an RAF fighter flight rising over London in the Battle of Britain.

Ellis Sams

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

Has the Historic District Commission approved this? It is in the same zip code as a historic district.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 12:09 a.m.

Are you trying and failing to be ironic or do you just genuinely misunderstand how historic districts work?


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

Phased construction? Good luck with the new renters as they endure ongoing construction for years to come.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 4:01 p.m.

"Jim Franke of Norfolk Development Co. previously stated rents would range from $1,500 to $1,800 per unit, which is the price range of the existing units." It still amazed me that anyone would shell out this kind of money for an apartment rather than investing in a house.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

Certainly not "affordable" to many.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

By the way, check out Norfolk. Not a great track record with some developments.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:52 p.m.

Nice digs, shame about the space. Its the new green - parking room for 1 1/2 cars and a bicycle per two and three bedroom unit. Family visitors and friends can go to down to Krogers and walk back. They don;t even need to bring food with them as there will be a plentiful supply of duck and frog's legs.

Dog Guy

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

Non-local bankers think all Americans should be renters and, in the near future, their own tenants.


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

Progress. Finally. I like the changes.