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Posted on Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

University of Michigan's proposed 600-bed graduate residence: Game changer in higher education and Ann Arbor

By Kellie Woodhouse

View New residence hall area in a larger map

In the near future, University of Michigan expects to raze eight houses and a parking lot in downtown Ann Arbor and erect an eight-story, 600-bed graduate student residence hall at a cost of $185 million.

While the new dormitory will change the landscape of Ann Arbor and further expand the footprint of campus, it's also exploring new frontiers in higher education. The 370,000-square-foot building will include seven-bedroom furnished apartments and an entire floor dedicated to community spaces.


These buildings, which house rental apartments on South Division, will be knocked down and replaced with a graduate housing residence hall near downtown Ann Arbor.

Melanie Maxwell |

The large apartments are a departure from the norm in graduate housing; according to Ann Arbor real estate and housing officials, such students —typically in their mid-20s or older— usually seek one- or two-bedroom apartments. The high-occupacy apartments, in which graduate students will be placed randomly, are intended to encourage partnership and collaboration.

And while traditional college housing for graduate students focuses on family-friendly offerings, this new building is intended for single graduate students. report on graduate student housing

"What happens to students in graduate school is, because they specialize so quickly, they get quite isolated," said Mary Sue Coleman, U-M's president.

The large apartment and community areas, Coleman said, are "designed to break down the intellectual barriers" between students.

Coleman said that "very few universities" are building graduate student residence halls that foster collaboration. Peter Logan, communications director for U-M housing, said the school believes no other university in the U.S. has built a graduate residence hall with seven-bedroom apartments.

Vennie Gore, president of the national Association of College and University Housing Officers and head of housing at Michigan State University, said he's heard of no other graduate student housing project that emphasizes community and collaboration as much as U-M's planned dorm.

The new project also has the potential to draw a new demographic of older students to the neighborhood just south of downtown. Of the 15,480 graduate students enrolled in the fall of 2012, 80 percent were between 22 and 30 years old and 11 percent were between 31 and 35.

Making way


The two houses on the left are owned by David Copi. The house in the center — 541 S. Division St.— has six bedrooms and rents for $3,800 a month. Currently undergraduates live there.

Melanie Maxwell |

The residence hall, approved April 18 by regents, will be near West Quad and South Quad, two soon-to-be renovated undergraduate dorms.

In December 2012, the university bought 551 and 545 S. Division Street, on which sits two apartment buildings and the Blimpy Burger building, for $1.5 million. In April 2013, the school's regents approved the purchase of 535 and 537 S. Division Street and 401 and 409 E. Madison Street for $3.17 million. David Copi, of Copi Properties, owns 541 and 543 S. Division St. and has agreed to sell them to the university, although the sale is not final, according to his son Sam Copi. The university had threatened eminent domain if Copi would not willingly sell the properties.

The properties, coupled with an existing surface parking lot that the university owns on Thompson Street, will be razed to make way for the new building.

The project is partially funded by the largest donation in university history. Charles Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. who attended U-M for two years in the 1940s, donated $100 million toward the building and $10 million toward fellowships for graduate residents. The university is in the process of developing the fellowship program, Coleman said.

"Graduate housing? It's not something universities are able to put aside money for," said regent Andrea Fischer Newman, who credited Coleman for developing the relationship with Munger that led to the $110 million donation.

Munger, 89, also has donated $20 million to the university for the renovation of its 240-bed Lawyers Club dormitory, which is restricted to law students. After a yearlong $39 million renovation, U-M's only central campus residence hall for graduate students will reopen in the fall.

U-M property acquisition from 1999 to present
Munger also has contributed to five four- and five-story graduate apartment buildings at Stanford University, which the San Francisco Chronicle dubbed "generic." Those apartments, built in 2009, are intended for collaboration, but to a lesser scale. The apartments in Munger's Stanford project range from studios to four bedroms.

"I think he saw the Michigan project as an opportunity to refine what they did at Stanford and to really expand the things that worked well but that they hadn't done enough of at Stanford," Coleman said of Munger.

Unlike the Lawyer's Club, the new building, which will be named after Munger, won't focus on one discipline; instead it will be open to students from all 19 of the school's colleges.

The building is set to rival some of Ann Arbor's newest student high-rises. The top floor, replete with a skylight ceiling, won't boast a single apartment. Instead, it will include lounges and work areas, a gym and running track and a commissary that will carry food at low prices. Fellows will have access to a fellows' room on the eighth floor.

Each bedroom in the seven-bedroom apartments will have its own bathroom and access to large living and kitchen areas.

There also will be a few three- and six-bedroom apartments in the building and the university anticipates some of the apartments will be used by visiting faculty.

"You’re starting to see housing being mixed with a number of different things for students ... many more functions that are involved in the campus housing community, [including] collaboration," Gore said. "You're beginning to see spaces becoming more flexible."

The university declined to release a rendering of the proposed residence hall.

Housing a draw

Housing has become an increasingly important factor for graduate students torn between two or three schools.

According to James Baumann, who also is with the national housing officers association, a student's first question about a college usually centers around his or her academic program. The second question is almost always about housing.

While this sentiment used to apply primarily to undergraduates, it's becoming increasingly befitting to graduate students. That's especially true at campuses like Stanford and New York University, where available housing near campus is limited and expensive, so prospective graduate students need an affordable option. At a school like U-M, where downtown graduate housing isn't as expensive as in major metropolitan areas, the appeal to students comes from a different set of factors, such as the convenient location, amenities and building design.

For Kelsey Vanoverlap, location and amenities drew her to the Lawyer's Club. The first-year law student lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Kerrytown but is moving to the newly renovated Lawyer's Club on the Law Quad in the fall, even though the cost is double the rent she is paying for her off-campus apartment.

"This is a 10-minute walk and that's a 30-second walk," she said. "It's a little more expensive, but you're paying for the convenience."

She said the ability to be around like-minded students also is a draw.

Vanoverlap added: "That was a big drawback for other schools that didn't have housing."

U-M officials are expecting the new graduate dorm to attract applicants and lure students who would otherwise be on the fence about which graduate school to attend. They think it will be a draw for international students and students from out of state.

Withstanding law students, who have access to the Lawyers Club, existing on-campus housing for graduate students is lackluster. The vast majority of graduate students live off campus in neighborhoods like Kerrytown and the West Side, or in apartment communities outside of downtown.

Logan says the school can't accommodate all the requests it receives for graduate housing with existing facilities. Each year a few hundred graduate students are turned away.

Part of the crunch is because the school has transformed three residences —Northwoods I, II and III— into undergraduate housing, even though the apartment and townhouse-style buildings were originally meant for graduate students and students with families. Altogether, switching the housing has eliminated nearly 1,190 graduate beds.

Most graduate students in Northwoods IV and V, which are located on North Campus, are in their 30s or late 20s. Many have families and children who play together in courtyards. A large percentage of the graduate students living there are international.


Bikes and toys are strewn in a courtyard at Northwood Community Apartments, on-campus housing for graduate students at U-M that houses many families with children.

Melanie Maxwell |

"Forty years ago universities were building apartments for graduate student families. That's sort of how, as I recall, when I was in graduate school myself, that was sort of the rage," Coleman said. "But theses facilities, they're not really popular anymore."

The school can accommodate 1,240 graduate students with existing facilities. One thousand graduate students, many with their families, live in Northwoods IV and V and another 240 law students can fit into the lawyers club, which will reopen this fall after a $39 million renovation.

A one-bedroom apartment in Northwoods can cost up to $970 a month and a three-bedroom townhouse can cost up to $1,250. A one-bedroom apartment with a 12-meal-per-week plan at the Lawyer's Club costs between $11,660 and $13,260 for an 8-and-a- half-month lease. The price-point for a bed in the proposed graduate hall hasn't been released.

Once U-M finishes its Residential Life Initiative —a decade-long project to renovate many of the school's central campus undergraduate dormitories— in 2015 with the renovation of West Quad, the school could possibly switch 550 Northwoods beds back to graduate housing. Those beds, with the addition of the 600 beds in the Munger dormitory, would double the university's graduate housing capacity.

U-M anticipates housing 10,460 students this fall— 1,180 students less than the college's current capacity because South Quadrangle will be closed for renovations.

A new neighborhood dynamic?

Players in Ann Arbor's real estate and rental housing businesses say the new dorm could alter the composition of the area just south of downtown.

Right now most rentals between South Fourth Avenue and South Division Street, between East Madison and East William Streets, are filled with undergraduate students who attend U-M. Yet developers say that new high-rises targeted primarily to undergraduates —such as Zaragon Place and Landmark— are attracting undergraduates and leaving openings in the area for graduate students.

Amy Khan, president of the Ann Arbor-based CMB Property Management, says that while the area remains primarily inhabited by undergraduates, there's more graduate students living in the neighborhood than in years past.

"We manage a property kitty-corner from where it's going up and we just think it's going to draw more graduate students [to the area]," Khan said of the new dorm. "That will probably change how we market some of our nearby locations."


The university wants to build a residence hall for graduate students in the highlighted area.

Melanie Maxwell |

Khan said the area in the south part of downtown has "the biggest mix" of undergraduates and graduates— unlike Kerrytown, which is known for housing graduate students, or the State Street and Packard areas, which are known for housing undergraduates.

"That area is halfway between campus and Main Street, so it's kind of like that middle road," said Bennett Borsuk, director and co-founder of the Ann Arbor-based Cabrio Properties.

Of the proposed graduate student residence, he added: "It will change the demographics in some of the nearby properties a little bit and it may push where graduate students are living."

One of Ann Arbor's newest high-rises, Zaragon West, which abuts campus and the area just the south of downtown, offers one- to four-bedroom apartments, and is thus attracting a mix of graduate and undergraduate students.

Typically graduate students seek apartments with fewer bedrooms, while undergraduates flock to apartments with several bedrooms. High-rises such as Landmark, which only offers five- and six-bedroom apartments or Zaragon Place, which primarily offers four-bedroom apartments, are populated primarily by undergraduates. Such high-rises are relatively new, and downtown Ann Arbor's student housing scene is still adapting to their presence. The eight-story Corner House was built in 2008, followed by the 10-story Zaragon Place and 10- story 411 Lofts in 2009.

Khan said that since luxury student apartments began springing up in Ann Arbor, she's seen an influx of graduate students in one- and two-bedroom apartments that used to be rented by undergraduates. For example, CMB's Corner House Apartments, near the corner of State and Washington streets, used to be primarily inhabited by undergraduates. Now Khan says graduate students are moving into the one- and two-bedroom apartments.

"It's getting a mix," she said. "In the beginning it was pretty much all undergraduates."

A flood of new beds

The addition of 600 beds to the downtown area also will make downtown housing more competitive. The new dorm, coupled with the end of U-M's housing renovation initiative that's taken between 430 and 1,180 beds offline each year since 2007, will likely affect Ann Arbor's student housing market.

"That does change the campus capacity and it may have an effect on off-campus housing," Logan said, also agreeing that the new graduate dorm "could change the population mix" of the area surrounding it.

Gore said when colleges build new dorms "typically what you see happening is the really good properties will remain full.

"The properties that are located further away from campus will lose students."

Fall 2012 enrollment at U-M was 43,426, up 1,500 students from two years before— with the bulk of the uptick occurring in graduate programs.

"Private developers are always looking at colleges and universities, and especially the tier one universities," Gore said. "They're trying to figure out what's the capacity? What's the opportunity for growth?"

Two high-rises are under construction in downtown Ann Arbor right now: Varsity Apartments and Ann Arbor City Apartments. Two other high-rises have been approved for 413 Huron Street and Church Street. Zaragon West, City Place and Landmark apartment complexes opened in 2012, joining 411 Lofts and the original Zaragon Place. Monthly rents in the new apartment projects range between $800 and $1,745 per bedroom.

When U-M's new dorm opens, its existing dorm renovations end and the new private high-rises open, the Ann Arbor housing market will be flooded with hundreds of new beds.

"It will definitely make finding stuff easier for people and it will affect the pricing as well," Borsuk said. "Right now there's very limited availability."

While Borsuk and others have predictions about exactly how the university's proposal will affect downtown Ann Arbor if built, they all say that the scope and shape of the impact will be hard to pin down until the building is operational.

"It's a guessing game," Khan said.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 5:10 p.m.

Make sure to put Solar panels on the roof!


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 8:39 p.m.

I couldn't help but comment on this story. I've been in the student housing development business for 15 years and have developed and toured properties all over the U.S. Never in my career have I witnessed such gross negligence from any investor, philanthropist or school by spending $500 per ft. on student housing. I understand UM received a gift but to rise to this degree of overspending is ridiculous. If they want to give money away there are plenty of people who desperately need help. Only UM would make a committed capitalist like me complain that the money should be used for social welfare than constructing overpriced buildings! Shame on UM's President, CFO and Board of Trustees for allowing this to occur on their watch.

say it plain

Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

Know what else townies?! This will mean that our esteemed city leaders (don't forget, even our Mayor is also on the UM gravy-train!) will have even greater reason to suggest monorails for this Disneyland of higher education! Because a good number of those students--and all the student bodies to fill the downtown highrises as well--will need to get over to North Campus. We've already seen that the local powers-that-be believe buses aren't enough, and we're seeing how "density" is working in downtown/central-campus (same thing, more and more) AA, soooo... next will be a monorail/light-rail being revisited *in a big way* I'd guess.


Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 12:47 a.m.

Unless something is done the U of M is going to destroy AA. They take money out of the city, put up the ugliest building imaginable (Ulgitechture), ignore the people of AA, etc, etc in the pretense of "education" (really just a monopolistic business bullying its way to greater wealth). Someone has to stop them. There is no "collaboration", when was the last time the U actually talked to non-students, non-cademics? White castles yet again.

Burr Oak

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

Isn't there anything that we can do to stop the U and the out of state developers from razing our downtown neighborhoods and urbanizing our community? They won't stop unless we find the tools to constrain them. On top of that, the UM properties are off our tax rolls. I don't understand why these issues weren't brought up in the article or in the comments. This development has been rumored for a long time, and is now confirmed. The UM endowment goes to capitol improvements, so they have to keep building. Wake up, Ann Arbor, before it is too late!


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 11:48 p.m.

So some old rich guy named Charles Munger, with too much money, who attended U-M for only 2 years in the 40s, gives UM $100 million to build a dorm on property that is not only depleating the taxable properties of Ann Arbor, destroying an icon of Ann Arbor (Blimpy's) but encrouches on the character of the city. Pardon, but this sham of a project by UM & blessed by its elected Board of Regents by the citizens is nothing more than a "total diss" to the city of Ann Arbor & residents. They could use all that money to build that eyesore of collaboration & community on that huge Pfizer property that they bought & took 2 to 4 million in taxes away from the city. They could be using the Pfizer property instead of leasing Domino Farms. The waste of money is amazing & no one can stop them from buying up this whole city. The collaboration & community they want is the dollars from the international Asian students who will pay big bucks to them. What other grad student in their right minds would want to live in a 7 bedroom apartment? The State of Michigan and it's regent system have failed every community with a university in it by allowing them tax-exempt status to destroy cities without some barriers/limits or taxable obligation. I have two high school students & neither want to apply to UM because of it's lack of community, commonsense or financial limits to the students (high tuition & housing) or the people who live here. Even the news outlets such as the Ann Arbor News are there pawns feeding us stupid stories of these amazing dorms & how great our historical buildings (old high school), taxable properties & beloved icons are being bought up by our smart & greedy overlord ...known as University of Michigan. It's only a matter of time before they demand that the city be called University of MI instead of Ann Arbor....and the residents quaint.

Jay Thomas

Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 9:56 a.m.

Er... it will allow the U to charge rent and pass on the money in larger salary increases for faculty. They aren't going to look such a gift horse in the mouth.

Detached Observer

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 11:06 p.m.

I don't really care how many bedrooms there are. What bugs me is the way U of M keeps gobbling up downtown when they have tons of real estate available on North Campus. Of course, if you've walked around North Campus you can understand why no one wants to live there. But the University should try to fix the problem instead of just giving up on it altogether.

Larry Nooden

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

Based on my experience in living in graduate dormitories (U of Wisconisn-Madison, Harvard University) and 48-years on the UM Faculty, I would say that that the new UM graduate dormitory will make very important contributions to graduate education. Among other things, it will promote much-needed interdisciplinary thinking. The net benefits greatly exceed the losses/inconveniences if one considers the larger picture of tertiary education and national needs. I will not try to explain the plan further; those interested can find that information elsewhere.

sheri barron RN,BSN

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

To Craig (commented on my post). I thought this post was about spending $$$$$$$$$$ that could be used to actually help the community. I really don't care if I get a lawyer. I just want an investigation and this not to happen to anyone else. I have been employed at the University since 1986. I would hate what happened to me to happen to anyone else. I could not live with myself if I did not try to do something about it. Many people have said this Dorm project is a waiste of money- not just me. By posting this- it is hurting my case and not helping it. I am trying to help others.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

Hey Kellie - please file all these negative comments and report back in three years. The University is , shudders, trying something new. Can't allow that. And if it doesn't work, reconfigure the floors to a more traditional layout. Do A2 residents not understand that you have to try new things or are they still burning whale oil and candles for light?


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

I work in University Housing and there is an awful lot of assumption and misinformation in the comments section. Knowing the following will be helpful: 1. Ignorance of University structure is common here. Housing is an auxiliary unit of the University, just like Athletics and the UM Health System. That means the auxiliary units do not receive General Fund money (money from the state of Michigan). They have to raise their own revenue, so their impact on the greater U is minimal. In fact, many auxiliary units contribute funds back to the University. 2. If I remember correctly, Charles Munger has structured the gift to prevent alternate uses (like Palmer Field); in other words, Housing cannot simply convert it to undergrad space if they lose money. This is an all-in bet on grad housing. 3. Although President Coleman has been developing the relationship with Mr. Munger that allowed the gift to happen, Munger is running the show on this. Housing doesn't have plans to show anyone because Munger is working with his people to develop them, with Housing input. He is the driving force on the development. Both parties happen to feel that the suite-style living will be a big draw, but it remains to be seen. No one really knows how it will play out. I believe that Munger Hall will draw from major grad programs in the immediate vicinity, and probably not many other places. Looking at the map, this means a smattering of Law students but mostly Ross MBA students and Public Policy grads. It wouldn't make much sense for programs located farther away. Get over the tax issue- NO ONE likes paying taxes, ever. The town and university are hopelessly co-dependent. Without the town, the U wouldn't be as good. Without the U, no one would want to live here. Sorry, but that's the fact, and if you're bent out of shape about that, you can always pay more than your fair share on your tax bill, just to make sure the city can survive.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

As the world moves towards more use of distance learning and telepresence, the UofM clings to their current business model. It will be interesting to see what this building morphs in to. The notion of a "grad student dorm" will seem so quaint and archaic in twenty or thirty years.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

It already is! No need to wait a few decades. Grad students *may* have been attracted to a bloc of one-bedroom apartments, or to another family-accommodating complex (like Northwood). This place? Useless except for international students from whom the U is leeching money: they are happy to have a new, accessible accommodation that they don't have to hunt for from their home countries before arriving in A2, and the U is VERY happy to take their money. Win-win...Except for every *other* student who would like some alleviation of the ridiculously expensive rental market in this town.

Shawn Letwin

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1 p.m.

Yes it is a real changer! -More revenue to the UofM as they rent these new facilities out. -Less revenue to those who have invested in Ann Arbor and pay to support the tax base for local, regional and state services. If UofM rents none of these facilities, they are on the hook for zero in taxes. Local investors who own rental units are completely on the hook for 100% of their taxes as their occupancies are reduced. -Less taxes are paid to local, regional and state governments. -The tilted level of competition will continues in the marketplace as UofM holds so many exemptions to local codes and building requirements than what the private sector is held to. Why should a government rental unit be held to a lessor standard? This project is not a dorm where students come in the fall and leave in the spring. This is a year round living complex. It is time for another game changer where the government institutions/non-profits (which provide the same services as the private sector) have stretched the envelope on the intent of the original tax exemptions created decades ago to help serve the needs of the public. They need to come into the fold with the rest of us taxpayers and be held to the same standards of operations and paying their fair share of taxes. The nature of the "higher institutions of learning/hospitals" in how they currently operate financially is so self-serving in their supporting their outrageous overhead (salaries, benefits, unfair competitive advantageous over the private sector) has to be addressed. Ann Arbor cannot continue to grow and support its community if the core sector that pays for its government services and infrastructures is the tax-exempt government services and infrastructures such as UofM an the hospital. The tail wagging the dog comes to mind. No food, dead dog. No taxes, dead city. This community needs balance and must take control of the tail (U of M, U of M hospital) before it kills the community.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 11:33 a.m.

Someone should explain to UoM that the map of Ann Arbor is NOT a PacMan game board. The goal isn't to munch every little bit, turning into a UoM property. Too late for this area along Division though... Hey, here's a thought: make UoM keep a true brick wall around the borders of their campus (never mind other properties within the Great Wall o Umich, they will eventually be bought anyway). Maybe that would slow them a bit, if they had to increase the wall every time they bought property.

say it plain

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 10:06 a.m.

@eze has the reasoning behind this 'experiment' nailed down, I believe. The grad student residence is *all* about attracting international students with bucks. The lawyers' club residence is all about attracting students who also are having their career path paid for by their families and for whom debt isn't a relevant concern. What an amazingly bold marketing angle, but then the UM has been raking it in, caring very very little about the debt burdens of those who must borrow for the privilege of being a Wolverine, so as to assure the continued gravy train. Wait...this institution is *seriously* funded by MI taxpayers while our actual public school system is falling apart?!


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 5:05 a.m.

Bye bye Ann Arbor ;'-( Hello UMville :(


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:26 a.m.

This is a terrible idea and a complete waste of money...EXCEPT that the somewhat xenophobic statements below are correct in at least one way: these dormitories will largely house only foreign students, who will sign up for these expensive travesties without ever seeing them because they are otherwise hard-pressed to find housing on their own. While I can respect that these students need and deserve housing, I find the extent to which this is profit-oriented for the University outrageous. When, exactly, is the University going to start serving the students and population of *Michigan* with a smart budget that doesn't rely to this pathetic extent on the full-tuition payments of foreign students? The only graduate housing historically popular with domestic (or experienced foreign) students is 1) single room/single bedroom apartment, and 2) family housing. Not these mini communes containing seven strangers. Graduate students are *adults*. They need to grow up, they *need* to get out of dorms.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 10:24 p.m.

You can lead a graduate student to a seven-stall commune, but you can't make him/her pay to sleep (and drink) there.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 10:13 p.m.

Does anyone know the square footage requirements for AA city codes on rental units and unrelated people living together? Is this online somewhere?

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

The University doesn't have to abide by most local ordinances b/c its given autonomy in the state constitution.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

So Brad, you are saying UM doesn't have to meet city codes with regard to square footage and non related tenants in a given space?


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Not sure where you're going with this but the university makes its own laws and rules.

Laura J

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

I'm a bit confused?? Why does the University get to build and rent 7 bedroom units, when the limit for Joe landlord is a 6 bedroom unit?? The City of Ann Arbor rental housing limit is 6 unrelated people in an apartment. The University never plays by the rules. By not having to pay property tax, they can undercut the market and still make BIG $$!!

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

The University doesn't have to abide by most local ordinances b/c its given autonomy in the constitution.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

How about those property tax dollars? You OK with losing those as well?


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

Heaven forbid a slumlord should lose a tenant or two.

Sean Thomas

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

wow so there are going to be NINE student high-rises downtown. That's insane! I kind of love it.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

I've been in grad school here for 5 years. For 3 of those, I lived in an 8 bedroom house with 6 grad students and an undergrad. During the last year, we had an empty room that visiting grad students would stay in for a semester at a time. Best 3 years of my life. Always something going on, but rarely so loud I couldn't work in my room (or even the living room). I would much rather have lived in that group setting in a nice University building than the sh***y, falling apart, poorly managed house in the same neighborhood. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why anyone wants to save those awful houses. Some are nice, most look like a strong wind would blow them over. As long as the price is reasonable and you have the option to choose roommates, this new residence hall could be amazing.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 10:12 p.m.

From the article, I don't think you will get to choose your roommates. It stated that they will be assigned randomly. We will see how long that lasts, though. Any grad students who want this communal living arrangement will want to pick their roommates.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 5:30 p.m.

what graduate student wants to live in a dorm? generally most graduate students i know, like most folks who are growing up a little, just want a nice little quiet apartment to themselves. they generally aren't interested in starring in an episode of big brother. the co-ops are a great option for communal living for those interested in that path; i lived in the ICC for three years as an undergrad and absolutely loved it. an unforgettable part of my university experience for sure.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:04 a.m.

My son wanted a dorm room - he knew no one on campus when he started grad school there. He's a quiet and shy kid who was in the school of information at North Quad when it opened. Imagine my shock when, after he graduated from MSU, I found out there were NO and I mean ZERO grad dorms at UM. I was unimpressed after experiencing the wide variety of on-campus housing at MSU. So I do think that grad dorms will have an audience - however, the 7 bedroom plan doesn't sound like a winner.

Sean Thomas

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

I was thinking the same thing, But there are only a few of these large units and I'm sure there are at least that many large groups of people that would like to get along together in that kind of environment.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 5 p.m.

Mary Sue forgets to mention that University Terrace was torn down to make way for the new Children's Hospital. Those units were never replaced. A deliberate decision - M-Med empire over Grad Housing. The Latte Grad "Dorm" (call it what it is with six roommates) will be a huge money maker for the University. So much so, they were willing to go to ED to get the last property. It's not a critical need, housing for grads exists on the economy - it is the expected revenue stream they are after. If they can fill it with their desired demographics... Six roommates for a grad student? The University of Baltimore, primarily a law and business school, partnered with a couple of private high rise apartment buildings in downtown Baltimore. One extensively renovated to include four bedroom suites - each bedroom with private bath and a shared common area. The other, went more traditional with studio and one bedroom units. Care to guess which one is having trouble attracting tenants? Grad students are past the commune age folks. Even with a private room (the bedrooms are large enough to have a study area) and a door you can lock, it still adjoins the common area, where odds are, at least one of your roommates will be Bluto.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 9:52 p.m.

I did not say Mary Sue was around when University Terrace was torn down. I said she neglected to mention that grad housing was on campus until Med empire took over. University Terrace was very much due for a tear down (I lived there in '85), but it was a deliberate choice by the U not to replace same-for-same.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 8:54 p.m.

University Terrace was torn down 15 years before they started building the new Children's Hospital - long before Mary Sue came to the university. I doubt she would even know what you were talking about if you mentioned "university terrace."


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

What the ___.... I predict they end up filling this with undergrads when grad students decline to let 6 strangers and their hygiene habits dictate their living environmental comfort. Just another project by this University that makes me a little less proud of my degree. They don't care about the city or community at all. It's all about the image and bottom line.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 4:36 p.m.

"they get isolated" per Mary Sue what way? Students are all over the place and they certainly have dynamic staff in every department. the only possible isolating thing might be that students now only need a computer and if THEY isolate themselves with it.....there are study centers and libraries/lounges /activities/events everywhere for students.Many students esp at the Grad level are seriously goal oriented and the programs are likely quite intensive-most only 2 yrs-I would think that short span in a UMich grad student's life is better spent with a serious focus-I would find 6 adjacent bedrooms and the in/out of a unit like that seriously problematic-in fact undesirable.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

I think most of the grad students this living arrangement is targeted at are PhD students, and we're stuck in our programs for about 5 years. You do feel pretty isolated when the only people you see are from your field or your lab. Especially once your a dissertator and no longer have class. However, I don't think most people would want to live in a 7 bedroom unit, you're right about that.

An Arborigine

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 4:36 p.m.

Seizing propery from citizens and removing it from the tax base was the only game-changer in this project.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

Don't believe it. Last thing I wanted as a grad student was to live with strangers. Most places with grad housing can't fill them because there is no demand. Stanford grad students may use grad housing because a 1 bedroom off campus cost $2-3,000. MSU fills their grad dorm with undergrads because the grad students won't live there.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

That was the original intent Sparty, but they can't fill it so it takes overflow from undergrad dorms. A single in Owen is $4,000/semester with a $300 meal credit but a one bedroom in Spartan Village is only $700/month. Owen is the only dorm where grads can live but it's no longer grads only.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 4:14 a.m.

Nephew lives at MSU Owen Graduate Center and it's for Graduate Students only according to him.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 11:20 p.m.

Sorry aggatt, I meant to say grad dorms, not grad housing. Single and family apartments are always in demand. This sounds like a dorm when they randomly assign roommates..


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 5:42 p.m.

Wisconsin has a massive wait list for their graduate student/faculty housing. I think if there are single bedroom apartments, the demand is pretty high. This U of M plan does not sound like it will work though. Speaking as a grad student, most of us want our own space and privacy. Not to mention many of my fellow students are getting married or moving in together, which this doesn't sound good for.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

This is a very strange development, but rather characteristic of the disaster that is the reign of the current UM president. Everything she does requires "collaboration," which works well in some disciplines, but not very well in others, such as in most of the humanities. Instead of doing something about graduate student stipends, they are wasting money on this dorm, which is quite a risk and another attempt at silly intellectual engineering. Graduate students, at least the ones I know, are hardly interested in such collective living. They need time to think and require privacy. MSC is much too controlling, and this has all the makings of another disaster. Graduate education at UM is in crisis, with not enough fellowship support and too many new rules and regulations. Perhaps a new president will reverse all of this, find a new dean for the Graduate School, and rejuvenate the training of the next generation of university professors. This dorm, with its seven room rabbit warrens, looks like another looming disaster.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 4:24 a.m.

A new president will reverse all of this....are you kidding? The next president will be more controlling and liberal than we've ever seen. There is no stopping the power-hungry elitists.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 4:03 p.m.

Interesting article, just one thing though; the Student housing on North Campus is called Northwood, not Northwoods. Not trying to be picky!


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

If it costs 185mill to build, what's it going to cost to renovate when it falls apart.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:22 a.m.

At the going rate, the university applies, most probably, a roughly 30-40 year depreciation schedule and will steadily reserve roughly 2.5%/year for that purpose. So the math is relatively straightforward. Do you have reason to believe it will be higher for this project? Should Michigan have rejected the $100MM gift to avoid the depreciation?


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

I am a graduate student at U of M, and I highly doubt the dorm will contribute to the intellectual climate the way it is being marketed. They haven't said what the rent will be, but if it is anything like the Lawyer's Club then the only students who will be able to afford to live there are people whose parents are paying or those living off loans with the expectation of a high income after graduation (e.g. law and business students). GSI, GSRA, and GSSA stipends certainly won't cover that kind of rent. Money aside, I came to grad school at age 25, and the last thing I wanted was to live with a bunch of roommates (I also don't want to live in close proximity to large concentrations of undergraduates - I enjoy my quiet, trash-free neighborhood). Many people in my cohort were already married or have married since we enrolled, and others have started a family. My prediction? This building will be populated primarily by young (or at least first- and second-year) professional school students and wealthy individuals. For the vast majority of grad students (and of future recruits), it is no "game changer."


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

It may also end up being populated by undergrads once the U can't fill it with grad students.

Sandra Samons

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

There goes one more option for parking for people who do not have U of M parking permits participate in UM programs. Meanwhile, I recently attended a convention at Emory University in Atlanta and the convention venue was amazing. Even MSU's Kellogg Center can host a convention. But the U of M can't do that. I don't understand this. Is it just me, or shouldn't a major university like the UM be able to do that?


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 11:39 a.m.

How can U of M call itself an University without those Shriners Conventions.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

Sweet! Lets just keep making the college experience more and more and more and MORE and MOOOOORE EXPENSIVE! lol Money money money! Good luck kids. You're getting the shaft.

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

Yeah, the rental rate for these apartments will probably be on par with the Lawyer's Club. That said, I know the university is investing the $10M donation from Munger into an endowment for fellowships. I am not 100 percent sure b/c the university is still determining details, but Its a possibility that housing might be included for students who receive a fellowship.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

At a minimum, the City of Ann Arbor should be compensated on an annual basis by the University for lost property tax revenue. The property tax burden on property NOT owned by UofM is too high and getting worse. Many people will not be able to afford to keep up their homes in good repair (already happening in some neighborhoods) , people will start moving away even more frequently to avoid high taxes, downtown business will suffer and UM will be surrounded by poverty aka Yale. UofM advocates an income tax, but that will also drive business out of the city. The real solution is that UM pay property tax on residential and office buildings and be tax exempt only for the hospital and buildings used primarily for teaching and research.

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

I know that the mayor considered asking the university to pay a lump sum upon acquiring a property in the city and thus taking it off the tax rolls. I wrote about this in Feb and checked in with the mayor not too long ago. He said it was still on his agenda but there was nothing concrete yet. Any payment would have to be offered voluntarily by the university.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:42 a.m.

You're describing a financial arrangement basically without much of a University, like say Jackson or Flint. Nah, I'm not down with that. AA benefits hugely, immensely and will forever because of the university.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

Good proposal. Never will happen, however, given the power UM wields in this city.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

The article mentions the 2 residential properties owned by Copi, but does not mention the owners of the other properties involved in this project. There are about 8-9 properties based on the aerial map of the area with the dotted line. Maybe AA dot com can list all the properties purchased, the owners and the amounts of the individual sales. With the UM and the private developers rolling into town and building lux high rise housing for students, it certainly is a game changer for the owners of old houses cut into apartments that have dominated the student rental landscape for years. Many of those old houses were run down and overpriced. It also is a game changer for the apartment rental complexes around the city that have enjoyed high rents, a tight rental markets and some not offering much in the way of value, to say the least. Some are out of date and very overpriced. All of this will change in the next couple years with the new high rises being completed and the UM completing their renovations and housing building projects. Some local landlords will be scrambling.......

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

JRW, check out the map at the top of the page. If you click on the blue marker it talks about the owner of each property, when it the property was acquired by the university and for how much $$$. Call me at 734 623 4602 if you can't figure it out.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 4:19 p.m.

Craig, I think you are correct. Maybe that's why there isn't any info on the owners of the properties that were sold for this project, other than Mr. Copi.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

that would be the same Bill "don't you know who I am" Martin who once tried to circumvent his own security system by playing that card to some poor sap guarding a door to the suite area. The kid didn't recognize old Bill and asked him for the required ID. Bill wasn't happy to catch people doing their job.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

If memory serves me Bill "former AD" Martin had some connection to some of those properties.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

The thesis is ludicrous. Around the world, people living in this kind of physical environment tend either to be convicted criminals or committed religious in cloisters. Neither group spends much on rent.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 11:02 a.m.

Probably the largest populations of people forced to live this way are factory workers in China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, India, etc. and also the workers from those countries who go abroad to work on construction projects in the middle east. The accommodations are sometimes apartment blocks, somethimes converted shipping containers filled with bunk beds.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 2:33 a.m.

Nor should they

The Picker

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 2 p.m.

Seven Bedrooms, Yea thats that funky little pad every grad student dreams of !

sheri barron RN,BSN

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

Way to go UMICH. Why not first try and help the patients, employees, and students you have hurt. How about a mediation center instead of hiring your high powered attorneys? sheri barron on vimeo.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 11 a.m.

Sounds like someone has an ax to grind and it doesn't seem to relate to student housing. Some pro bono legal advice: If you can't find a lawyer to take your case, you probably don't have much of a case.

sheri barron RN,BSN

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

I just read an article in AARP where UMICH is ranked in the top for safety. I wonder if they look at how many lawyers each hospital has on retainer or otherwise to help silence the complaints. It would be nice if UMICH could spend the money to help live up to the reputation they have. I can't find a lawyer to go against them without breaking the bank. I hate the fact that they are spending so much money on dorms- that could be used to help make the hospital safer. I have written Mr. Boothman many times, along with HR to no avail.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Don't be misled by the title of "University". The U of M has a clear directive in the business of growth to suit its own purposes (of growth) to satisfy the directors (CEO's) in each of its fiefdoms. They expand not for the benefit of Ann Arbor but In order to demonstrate and justify their growth to donors so they can continue to thrive on growth. They are a business unencumbered by traditional contributions to local, state and federal taxes so they have a decided advantage when it comes to acquisition and can grow without bound. They won't stop till its too late and Ann Arbor is out of oxygen. Just like semi-trucks need to pay for their proportionate share when destroying the roads paid for by taxes so too should the University that's success depends on the City infrastructure. Being a college town and a community where families can live and people want to retire in are quickly becoming mutually exclusive. Tearing down Blimpy Burger in the name of growth says it all, they couldn't care less about the City or what makes it unique or special (besides themselves). The loss of tax base by building this dorm isn't the main concern. Forever more they'll be diverting 600 beds of resources from off campus housing. This isn't a dorm to support grad students starting a family. It's to pack as many in like sardines and divert as much resources as possible from the community to U of M. It's all big business.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

"Being a college town and a community where families can live and people want to retire in are quickly becoming mutually exclusive." The only retirees who want to live in this community are already here, the rich docs and profs who own homes in the area. And they have the option to live elsewhere part of the year. I doubt many retirees from other parts of the country are flocking to AA.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

The older one gets (graduate student) the less inclined one is to want to be put in a forced mingling situation. In any case a project like this should never qualify for eminent domain. There is no "greater good" here to trump peoples property rights.

sun runner

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

I call it "enforced togetherness." :) When I was a grad student at Michigan lo these many years ago I lived alone in an apartment and then a tiny house. After five years of dorm living in college I was done with sharing my space. I would never, EVER have voluntarily gone in on a housing situation where I could have ended up with six roommates.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Thank goodness this property isn't in Germantown. The sheriff might just run 'em out of town!


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

Worse yet - Blimpytown.

David Cahill

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

The unique idea of 7-bedroom apartments for grad students could easily be a unique market failure. When I was a grad student I had no desire to live in an "animal house" setting. One nice feature of this experiment is that if this dorm is largely unfilled at first, the U will have to dramatically lower rents!

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

You also have to keep in mind that this facility will be brand new and, if the legacy hall renovations are any indicator, very nicely appointed. Plus the location is ideal, right at the edge of town and campus.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

As a current grad student, I'm inclined to agree. I enjoy my privacy and having a quiet space to myself immensely. This said, I'm also intrigued by the University's social experiment. I do find that I have depressingly little interaction with students outside my department, and I think there is definite benefit to getting students outside of their departmental shells. This is the kind of place I'd probably be willing to try living for a year, just to see what I could learn. And hey, if this totally flops, I'm sure the U can fill it with undergrads...

Charley Sullivan

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

Game changer? 100 years ago maybe.

Pamela Bethune

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

Does anyone else have a problem with the continued use of eminent domain by the University? They threatened the owner of the buildings with that unless they came to a settlement according to this article. This is getting truly out of hand.

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:24 p.m.

Pam, I don't know about threats to use eminent domain, those are pretty hard to track. I do know that the U hasn't actually used eminent domain since the 1950s, and it was to acquire the building near the Fleming Administration Building that now houses the admissions offices.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 2:18 p.m.

You don't think it is a coincidence that the University hired Mayor Hieftje in the Ford School of Public Policy at more than $100,000/yr. The members of the City Council who work for the University should recuse themselves when they are considering issues that affect their employer but they don't.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

We really do need to start pushing back about this eminent domain thing. I agree that this is getting out of hand.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

I have heard of many similar ways major universities are able to acquire properties for expansion. University of Illinois at Chicago razed entire city blocks for their campus expansion, even though these blocks contained historic properties like the Hull House (which was saved, barely). In Missouri, the university was prohibited by law from using eminant domain, so they had the city change the building codes; the changes that would have needed to be made to comply with the new codes and allow renters to occupy single family homes were so costly to the landlords that they had no choice but to sell. If there is a will, backed by the power of the state, there is a way.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

I agree Pamela, eminent domain used to experiment with social engineering by building a slightly outside the box dormitory is over the top. There is absolutely no "greater good" in that project that should have justified the threat of eminent domain


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

Due to my AHAD I'd didn't read the whole article but the U has some pretty deep pockets so my guess they just made a deal the owner couldn't refuse,I mean they bought Blimpy's fer cryin out loud

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

"the school believes no other university in the U.S. has built a graduate residence hall with seven-bedroom apartments." So what if grad students are "so over" the dorm experience of random roommates? We've all heard and experienced the horror stories. And just because they're grad students does not mean they aren't stinky slobs, etc.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

By-the-by, the City has no direct control over what the University builds or how it builds, because the University is not subject to local zoning laws under the state constitution. The City has limited control over how many bedrooms can be built in private housing, based on how the zoning ordinance defines a "family;" there is case law on this point. I believe the City could do more to require a mix of unit sizes or uses in every project, if only to improve the chances that we'll never see a monolithic, one-demographic-only housing project. But more than anything, strong design requirements (not guidelines) are needed, because users/tenants come and go, but buildings may last for decades.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 5:49 a.m.

Do you really think the city would go against the University? Who do you think supplies the massive amounts of money into its economy to keep random projects running?

Dog Guy

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

This worm can will be on the gown side. Heaven help our town if U. of M. housing metastasizes across Division Street!


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

And what exactly do we think will stop it?


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

This is totally off topic, but this article has the best map stuff I've ever seen on job Kellie.( BTW you spelled your name wrong.( that's a joke ) )

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

Haha, I blame it on my parents. Never as a child could I buy one of those keychains with my name on it, so I got a magic marker and made my own. Thanks for the comment on the maps. I tried to make the markers as detailed as possible. The property acquisition map is actually an adaptation of an earlier map I made for a package on U-M property acquisition. I think that ran in February-- here's a link:

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

Love the use of the maps. It's a first for us..thanks, Kellie!


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 4 p.m.

"Yes, the map is neat. It points out that Bill Martin sold 4 properties for $3,169,565. Assessing shows he had very recently obtained them for $2,112,00. A tidy 1 million profit for a former U of M employee." It has been reported on these pages as a wash sale to Mr. Martin done for the university's convenience. As I understand it, the fully loaded cost to Martin and the fully loaded sale price to UM were a profit. As I understand it from prior articles and, as I recollect, from staff, you have your "facts" (i.e., valuations and expenditures and income) wrong. You might care to research this further. If you determine you are wrong, I'm assuming you will correct your original statement and remove the putative blot on Mr. Martin's copybook?


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

Yes, the map is neat. It points out that Bill Martin sold 4 properties for $3,169,565. Assessing shows he had very recently obtained them for $2,112,00. A tidy 1 million profit for a former U of M employee.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

I hope that this puts an end to privately financed highrise student resident construction for awhile, until occupancy rates have been established for those buildings under construction now and planned for construction to start soon. While the DDA and some City Council members want more dense development in downtown Ann Arbor no coordinated effort exists to integrate design or limit size. Once all the residence halls are built we will see if the supply of student housing finally exceeds the demand, especially for some of the higher rental price properties. However, until everyone has settled into their living quarters the Ann Arbor Planning Commission and City Council shouldbe very selective in approving further student housing construction if indeed any new construction will be allowed. Review of the zoning ordinance is important in view of recent conflict between neighborhood residents and developers as well as the effects of highrise construction on the overall appearance of Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor officials should have the ability to set design standards and demand alterations of plans that would make new construction more fitting for our city. At this time the Planning Commission and City Council must approve developers' plans if they comply with the zoning ordinance even if the construction designs contrasts with the existing appearance of downtown Ann Arbor. This should change.

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

@Veracity: I think you're right to say the graduate dorm could affect some of the high-rises going up around town. Developers keep saying the demand is still there for additional "high-end" units near campus, but I don't think we'll really know until a couple years out. Keep wondering if/when we'll see prices drop.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

"I hope that this puts an end to privately financed highrise student resident construction for awhile, until occupancy rates have been established for those buildings under construction now and planned for construction to start soon." Why? The private developers build a lot more cost efficiently than the U (they'd go broke if they spent $300K per bed on construction) AND they pay property taxes.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

That is an outrageous wasteful and excessive and underlines the spend happy attitude of government and taxpayer funded institutions. $185 million for 600 beds is over $300,000 per bed. Essentially, the U of M is buying a house for someone to live in, all alone. If you can't do it for everyone, don't do it. And, if you can't do it for a reasonable price, don't do it all. If a student needs luxury living to be a good student, then they are not a good student. This adds no value to the educational process.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 10:55 a.m.

I just had to reply to say, belboz, your logic makes completely utterly no sense. Read blue85's comments again.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:19 a.m.

"For $185 million, it better be a clear, concise, and universally agreed upon study. The article and comments on A2 fail to do that. $185 million, for 600 beds. $300,000 per bed. Sickening." Your refuse to use your calculator and you refuse to understand the absolutely elementary math required to understand this problem/context, so I can't help you. You don't want to understand therefore you can't; in such a case, I can be of no assistance. I can only recommend some sort of therapy for dyscalculia.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:17 a.m.

"I'm sorry, I thought UM received hundreds of millions every year from taxpayers." Yes UM receives roughly $275MM/year "Perhaps if they did not, they would not be as liberal with spending money on projects like this." Housing brings in money. What is your argument: that there is a cost differential between this project and others? Where are your numbers to support the idea that the budget will be relatively liberal? "The U of M will be receiving Housing Money from every grad student, paying rent to live in the house. If you are telling me they will charge students the cost of a $300,000 mortgage every year, perhaps." No, that is not what I'm saying. The University will assume only $85MM in debt. As noted, that is less than half of your figure. Do the numbers. The University will also collect rent for the next 40 years to offset the cost. You seem to be willfully ignoring any semblance of analysis as well as pointers toward such an analysis. "The logic of treating everyone the same is that, theoretically, when I go to a University, I pay the same amount as everyone else and should receive the same education. " As a factual matter, this is utterly false: the university has a pricing and fee structure which varies over each school and which varies by division and degree. "If people are paying the $300,000 mortgage, then perhaps." As noted in my prior rebuttal, and above, this is utterly false. But, if not, then it should not be a lottery to find out who lives here. I don't see how 600 beds can be dispersed equally among the graduates. "Regardless, tell me how this will lower tuition rates for students in Michigan, or increase the level of education the school is providing." You clearly didn't read my prior reply: by avoiding over half the cost of the mortgage, the university will at least have the option of lowering housing costs, or of harvesting additional revenue.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 11:55 p.m.

I'm sorry, I thought UM received hundreds of millions every year from taxpayers. Perhaps if they did not, they would not be as liberal with spending money on projects like this. The U of M will be receiving Housing Money from every grad student, paying rent to live in the house. If you are telling me they will charge students the cost of a $300,000 mortgage every year, perhaps. The logic of treating everyone the same is that, theoretically, when I go to a University, I pay the same amount as everyone else and should receive the same education. If people are paying the $300,000 mortgage, then perhaps. But, if not, then it should not be a lottery to find out who lives here. I don't see how 600 beds can be dispersed equally among the graduates. Regardless, tell me how this will lower tuition rates for students in Michigan, or increase the level of education the school is providing. For $185 million, it better be a clear, concise, and universally agreed upon study. The article and comments on A2 fail to do that. $185 million, for 600 beds. $300,000 per bed. Sickening.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

"That is an outrageous wasteful and excessive and underlines the spend happy attitude of government and taxpayer funded institutions." $100,000,000 of the spending will NOT come from ANY level of government; you are factually incorrect. "$185 million for 600 beds is over $300,000 per bed. Essentially, the U of M is buying a house for someone to live in, all alone." Your math is right but your logic and facts are off: 1) the university cost will be $85MM, roughly $142,000/unit; 2) you seem to neglect rental income: a homeowner buys to avoid rent, so his investment is offset by an opportunity savings of avoided rent; in this instance, the university will be harvesting rental income to offset the cost; 3) Munger's gift, in effect, actually pays down the depreciation/upkeep for the entire structure for the first 40 years; 4) the point of the project is to force people to rub elbows in order to spark creativity, so this project is not just driven by economics. "If you can't do it for everyone, don't do it." Yes, if you can't give every needy person a kidney transplant, let them all die. Is that what you are saying? Your "logic" escapes on this one. "And, if you can't do it for a reasonable price, don't do it all." What is a reasonable price? What is that reasonable price after the donation and rental income are taken into account? What is your logic here? "If a student needs luxury living to be a good student, then they are not a good student." The logic here also escapes me. You are creating a definition that almost no one on the planet would recognize. What does one's taste in housing have to do with academic merit or accomplishment? "This adds no value to the educational process." There is a ton of work being done, probably daily, to study how people work and create in a collaborative setting. Where is your support for the zero value added? As a logical fallacy, using an appeal to authority, what makes Charlie


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

The real "game changer " here is soon we will all have to list our address as Joe Blow 123 dumb st U of M kingdom, Ann Arbor district


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 5:46 a.m.

I would appreciate not publicly giving out my address. Thank you.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

Once again the University makes plans without consulting the Ann Arbor business community or government bodies. They took away property tax paying businesses by buying the land and the property values of many rental properties will decrease, causing more taxes to be lost. Does the University even ask what will happen if Ann Arbor or Washtenaw County go bankrupt. With the County now almost certain to go into debt by $600 million it is an ever increasing possibility.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

"Collaboration?" That's totally silly. Why not call it what it is - subsidized housing to attract more Chinese grad students.

Jay Thomas

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

They would like to compete with us for whatever jobs America has left.

Homeland Conspiracy

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

Why not China is buying the USA piece by piece.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

I can not envision what demographic this type of housing will attract or retain over time. Graduate students, as diverse as they are, have some common desires including autonomy, privacy and, perhaps most importantly, peace. Many graduate students at the U are starting families, blending households, and facing other transitions that could be well served by maintenance-free, multi-family housing on central campus. But random assignment in a 7 bedroom unit? Sorry, that sounds like a youth hostel to me.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

@aarog - I respectfully disagree that this is a personality trait issue. Although the opportunities that you mention are essential to the graduate school experience, they are not inherently or ideally compatible with an individual's living quarters. I simply can not imagine seven graduate students peacefully and productively coexisting in the same apartment as they meet different stages of the graduate degree process - introvert or extrovert. What I am suggesting, however, is that there are design issues that could promote graduate student success at the U through safe, secure, amenity-filled private units that would likely be a similar cost to build but support graduate students in more effective ways. I would envision studio and 1-2 bedroom apartments (that could fit 2 adults and a young child or two), solid construction for soundproofing, efficient kitchens, adaptive furniture designed for small spaces and multifunctional living, with outdoor space for recreation. A community study/TV/playroom would be great as well - but graduate students need privacy (if for no other reason than intellectual property issues) and q-u-i-e-t! Throw in a few rentable guest rooms for mom and dad's obligatory visits, and you have yourselves a gold mine.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:34 a.m.

Sounds like you're an introvert as am I. Many more graduate students are seeking networks and partners for businesses, learning opportunities, and increased knowledge. These opportunities will last a lifetime and is an opportunity none will get anywhere else. It can be a fantastic situation!


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 11:13 a.m.

Sounds like it's a set for a reality show! I wonder if they've sold the rights yet. "Sets of seven, single, 20s strangers, randomly put together into apartments. Watch the sparks, fireworks, and lust!" Probably would have higher ratings if they had to share bathrooms. Maybe they want to compete with cheap off-campus housing (co-ops, rented houses), not realizing that people live in those options because they're cheaper than dorms (not for ambiance)?


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 12:19 a.m.

JRW, How do you pick 7 ideal room mates?


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

There aren't many "cheap" rental houses in AA any more. In the last 10-15 years they have increased rents dramatically and the rentals are, in many cases, very poor. The coops vary, but some are so bad that students pay huge $$ to get out of them, after renting from abroad sight unseen (always a mistake). At least with the new construction, students will know what they are getting into...the 7 beds randomly assigned will only last a short time. Grad students won't like it. They will change the policy and let them pick the 7 roommates ahead of time.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 10:44 a.m.

This new floorplan is pretty "out there". I'm glad the Mr. Munger was willing to foot the bill for the experiment.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 10:45 a.m.

"that", not "the".


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 10:34 a.m.

7 bedrooms is a game changer alright. Changing apartment living into flophouse living.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

After 4 years living in the dorm and shared apartment as an undergraduate, one of the biggest dreams I had as a graduate student was to have my own apartment where I could call it home. The U can always turn the 7-bed rooms Graduate dorms to Undergraduate dorm after it has been built.