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Posted on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 3:35 p.m.

601 Forest student high-rise developer aims for fall construction start

By Paula Gardner

601 forest image.jpg

The architect's rendering of 601 Forest as approved in October 2008. The development team is revising the plans, including moving the building entrances and adding more parking spaces.

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The developer of 601 Forest - a planned 14-story student high-rise at the corner of South University and South Forest - is adding parking and shedding some square footage.

The next step, city officials say, appears to be filing for building permits that will start the construction process.

"They've given me every indication ... they'd begin construction in the fall," said city planner Matt Kowalski.

Plans for 601 Forest were approved in October 2008 after developer Ron Hughes scaled back the original vision for a 26-story project.

The plans include first-floor retail space, two levels of underground parking, a fitness center and landscaped terrace on the 2nd floor and apartments marketed toward students on floors 2-14.

Now Hughes and his development team are seeking changes to the plans. According to a recent letter to the city and revised site plan:

• The bedroom count would climb by 10 to a range of 570-620. • The number of parking spaces would go from 102 to up to 146, due to moving the location of a water storage tank. • The building size would be reduced by about 9,000 square feet from its original 227,223 square feet.

Other changes include some building configurations that will move the entrance south on South Forest, add two retail storefronts and remove two elevators from the design.

"They've indicated to me that they're making more efficient use of the space," Kowalski said.

The administrative changes face up to 45 days of review by Kowalski and other city staff, and they won't need to go back to the Planning Commission for approval.

The 0.79-acre 601 Forest site includes several existing buildings, which would be demolished to make way for the new construction. They include the buildings that house Village Corner and Campus Student Bike Shop, the former Bagel Factory and two student rentals.

Dick Scheer, owner of Village Corner, said he has not yet been notified that construction could be starting on the project.

"Once construction starts, we'll be moving elsewhere," he said.

That location is undetermined, Scheer added.

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," he said. For now, he added, "it's business as usual."

Hughes has not returned a call seeking comment. Initial plans called for construction to begin in spring 2009, but financing stalled in the wake of the banking crisis.

In other recent student housing construction news, Zaragon Place 2 was approved June 15 by the city Planning Commission. That 14-story high-rise is planned for the corner of Thompson and East William.

Read the letter from the 601 Forest development team to the city here..

Paula Gardner is Business News Director of Contact her at 734-623-2586 or by email. Sign up for the weekly Business Review newsletter, distributed every Thursday, here.


Brendan Keeley

Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 1:52 p.m.

The idea that this construction will in any way impact the housing, or student ghetto area in Ann Arbor is just plain silly. Zaragon and U Towers already have pretty horrible vacancy rates. Students want houses in order to live with their friends, and select their neighbors, moreover houses are cheaper. These high rises would be good if they focused on business, but with their huge rents, and lack of privacy, their is little chance that they will ever be fully occupied.


Sat, Jun 26, 2010 : 12:59 p.m.

It's so big and ugly.


Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 1:01 p.m.

But does it have a Helicopter pad for wealthy students? No!!!


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 1:13 p.m.

Ken, I wouldn't call it a Fenestration Aberration, since the rendering suggests at least three different types of apt window settings. The apartment setback does seem weird, but I'll reserve judgment until the thing is finished. I bet students will hang out and party on that open ledge despite the rules. I'm more worried about increased winds to South U. with the University Towers highrise across the street.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 10:44 a.m.

One would wonder how come they could not design something more aesthetic, or just copy the "old style" and make it like the new North Quad.... the unnecessary setback of the apartment portion of the "skyscraper" creates a disastrous effect to the verticality of the tower. The creation of "a tower sitting of a podium" is a strange architectural creation in which its aesthetic value has not been championed by any modern masters. The endless repetition of the windows is a killer to the fenestration of the building without producing the effect of infinity but boredom. The area of South University remains an architectural disaster continuously filled with more uninspiring new big-ass buildings.....

Kevin S. Devine

Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 9:26 a.m.

I'm glad to see they've added 40 parking spaces, but I'm curious about how they calculate the number of spaces they'll need for the building. If one assumes 600 bedrooms and therefore at least 600 residents, does anyone really think 146 parking spaces will suffice? The streets in that neighborhood are already lined with cars as it is.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

Perfect Review by Tredd. Long term this will be great for the residential communities surrounding the development. Perfect location for Student Housing- South University.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 4:57 a.m.

Glad to see this progressing forward. A side benefit of this move to consolidate student housing will be a reclamation of some of the single family homes in the area slowly converting back to just that, single family homes instead of student rentals. This (slowly) changing market will not bode well for some of the landlords of these homes but the community overall should be well served as we reclaim neighborhoods for families close in to the campus and improve the town/gown mix close in to campus.

Ryan Munson

Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 10:30 p.m.

That's amazing of of these proposals that were once proposed before the bottoming out are now back alive. Glad to see progress.

Paula Gardner

Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 9:03 p.m.

They actually are talking about bedrooms, not bed counts. Apparently asking students to share rooms in a new apartment building won't work these days... I'm going to upload the letter sent to the city by developers in the text above. Number 11 is the one that outlines how the bedroom count will grow even as the number of apartments stays at 175.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 8:49 p.m.

"The bedroom count would climb by 10 to a range of 570-620" no, I'm pretty sure they mean bed count, probably half or less in actual bedrooms.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 5:18 p.m.

Thanks Townie


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 5:02 p.m.

Ann Arbor has very generous ordinance provisions regarding approved site plans. There are few limits on what changes can be approved at the administrative level. So, no need for re-submittal to CPC or council. Isn't it simply shocking how all the developers are fleeing from Ann Arbor and its "unfriendly to development" policies? Give me a break.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 4:47 p.m.

Wait a second, if they change it they have to go back to the planning commission and then back through council? That's a road I wouldn't go down.

Marshall Applewhite

Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 4:37 p.m.

Good for the tax base and S. University, but I imagine they will have vacancy problems for quite a few years after it opens.

Rod Johnson

Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 4:17 p.m.

600 bedrooms, wow.

Jay Thomas

Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 3:48 p.m.

I'm glad they've scaled it back and added more parking. If they have to rely on the adjacent garage it would be a problem.


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 3:39 p.m.

but... but... i used to love eating at the bagel factory... LOL