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Posted on Tue, Oct 16, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

3-story development on Detroit Street wins approval from Ann Arbor Historic District Commission

By Lizzy Alfs


The former Clark gas station at 544 Detroit St., pictured in 2005, is being targeted for development.

Ann Arbor News

Plans to demolish a blighted gas station on Detroit Street and replace it with a 3-story flatiron-style building were approved by Ann Arbor’s Historic District Commission last week.

The 400-square-foot gas station was constructed on the site, located at 544 Detroit St., in 1959. It has been vacant and deteriorating for more than 30 years.


A rendering of the proposed project at 544 Detroit St. in Ann Arbor.

Rendering by Marc Rueter


The former Clark gas station, pictured in 1975

City of Ann Arbor

“The non-contributing gas station has been abandoned for over 30 years and is in poor condition,” Jill Thacher, the city’s historic preservation coordinator, wrote in a staff report. “It was built in 1959 and does not fall within the period of significance of the Old Fourth Ward Historic District.”

Dan Williams of Maven Development wants to demolish the former gas station and construct a three-story, 4,000-square-foot building with office space and covered parking on the first-floor. There would be one condominium on the second floor and one on the third floor.

Each story would have steel balconies featuring metal work by a local artist.

“Though the proposed building is much larger than the existing non-contributing building, it is not detrimental to the district and features a design that is appropriate for the lot shape and size,” Thacher continued in her report. “The modern materials proposed are complementary to the historic materials used on other buildings (in the district).”

Williams is under contract to purchase the property from Jack Epstein, a former Ann Arbor resident who now lives in Maryland. The property was listed for sale with Doug Smith of Swisher Commercial for $149,000. Its assessed value is $50,700 for the 2012 tax year.

The architect for the project is Marc Rueter of Ann Arbor-based Rueter Associates Architects.

The Historic District Commission approved the project in a unanimous vote. Plans will now go before Ann Arbor’s Planning Commission and City Council for approval.


This rendering shows the proposed Detroit Street development with its surrounding buildings

Rendering by Marc Rueter

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Wed, Oct 17, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

This looks great! I'm hoping for more!


Wed, Oct 17, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.



Wed, Oct 17, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

thank you for listing the architect of record. i am very glad to see the developer chose local.


Wed, Oct 17, 2012 : 10:16 a.m.

OKay AAcom. Daniel Williams is "under contract" to buy and develop the Epstein property. Does that mean he is buying it for another person wishing to remain anonymous? Why? Maven Development,LLC was just formed on September 18th by Marshall, Michigan lawyer Paul Beardslee who serves as resident agent for the infant company. Does that mean barrister Beardslee is the developer or just another front for the same anonymous owner? For all Commission members know it could be the owner of all of the newly erected red-brick-and-iron buildings in that historic neighborhood and elsewhere (maybe a fire-brick sale). At least there would be a method, albeit hidden, to Ann Arbor's creeping red brick highrise madness.

John Roos

Wed, Oct 17, 2012 : 3:23 a.m.

Interested parties should contact John Walters of Metal in the same neighborhood on Felch Street for the metal work.


Wed, Oct 17, 2012 : 12:58 a.m.

So the purpose of the Historic Commission is not to preserve the historic look or feel of any district in Ann Arbor but to rather nitpick over a few representative structures as being crucial to preserving the city''s history once it is surrounded by monolithic junk. What a joke. The derelict gas station has far more Detroit Street character than its replacement ever will. Maybe commissioners should read the historic story of "The Little House" by Virginia Lee Burton.


Wed, Oct 17, 2012 : 12:32 a.m.

I was just wondering why someone had not yet snapped this space up... look's like someone was way ahead of me. I'm all for smart, planned, functional development within city limits!


Wed, Oct 17, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

I'd wager that the delay's a result of the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission. When the preferences of non-owners inhibit what owners can do with a parcel of land, it seriously constrains development incentives. Subtle corruption with prior owners having undue say over government interdiction of what new owners are allowed to do.


Tue, Oct 16, 2012 : 10:12 p.m.

Good deal, I'm excited to see this addition to the city.


Tue, Oct 16, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

By the looks of that old building Detroit street is correctly named.

Soulful Adrenaline

Tue, Oct 16, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

Metal work looks good.


Tue, Oct 16, 2012 : 8:05 p.m.

For years homeless people have camped out nearby. Expensive condos on upper stories, with a first floor medical marijuana dispensary, just might be the highest and best use for the site.


Tue, Oct 16, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

Who would want to live above a marijuana dispensary? Who would pay a high price to do so?


Tue, Oct 16, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

Nice bldg! I've wondered about ground floor "office" space and condos above. Do they put something in the paperwork that "No restaurant will be located on the first floor?" I would dread buying a condo and have a restaurant move-in downstairs.

Jim Osborn

Tue, Oct 16, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

A nice looking building; a big improvement over what is there presently. I do wonder how the neighbors will feel, though, about having a tall building next to them. Next to this proposed building arewhat appears to be a single family homes, even if they are now used as offices.

Linda Peck

Tue, Oct 16, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

This is a beautiful design for this spot. I hope that it will not make sight lines difficult for traffic at that corner, but otherwise it is great and what a nice addition to the neighborhood! I like also that local people are involved in this one.


Tue, Oct 16, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.

Looking good!