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Posted on Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Buyer of Ann Arbor's ex-Greek Church property plans for condo development

By Lizzy Alfs


The former Greek Church building in Ann Arbor was demolished last month and a local builder purchased the site during a tax foreclosure auction.

Ryan J. Stanton |

A local builder with decades of experience in the Ann Arbor market has emerged as the buyer of the former Greek Church property on North Main Street.

Tom Fitzsimmons, owner of Huron Contracting LLC, purchased the property last month, via a tax foreclosure auction, for $610,200.

Now, Fitzsimmons is planning to move forward with a low-rise condominium development.

“We’re interested in doing a project that I guess, comparatively speaking to what was previously proposed and approved there, will be much less dense,” Fitzsimmons said. “We’re low-rise builders: three to four story townhomes. We’re looking for something we feel fits in well with the neighborhood.”

In 2006, the North Main Street property was zoned as a planned unit development (PUD) when North Main/Fourth Ventures LLC proposed a 158-foot multi-family residential development called “The Gallery.” Plans included an 11-story mixed-use building and a nearby four-story building.


The blighted former Greek church building on North Main Street in Ann Arbor was demolished in September.

Melanie Maxwell |

Financing issues and the economic downturn stalled the plans and the property was later turned over to the county treasurer following a tax foreclosure. The former church building fell into disrepair until it was demolished in September.

At auction, the property had a minimum bid price of $365,051. Several bidders took notice of the site — which serves as a gateway into the downtown area — and the price shot up during the last half hour of bidding.

Fitzsimmons said in order for his project to make financial sense, he didn’t plan on shelling out much more than $610,000.

“I’d say we were right at or very close to (my maximum bid price),” he said. “That’s part of our strategy: we think this site is great…what made it work for us was being able to get the land at that price.”

Fitzsimmons is partnering with his long-time business associate, Mike Staiti, on the project. His goal is to meet with neighbors, business owners and city officials before moving forward with a formal site plan. He plans to first request that the property be rezoned to D2, which has a maximum allowable building height of 60 feet.

The time frame — although loosely set — would be to complete the project by spring 2014.

Fitzsimmons said he plans to avoid commercial use at the site and thinks its best fit is strictly residential. The number and size of the condominium units has not yet been determined.

“We are looking at keeping it simple and doing what we do best: filling a need of residential in that area,” Fitzsimmons said. “We are not, at this point, looking at expanding on that.”

Fitzsimmons is no stranger to downtown development; in the past two years, he has built five homes in the Kerrytown area. He also just received city council approval for a 3-story townhouse building on Catherine Street.


A rendering of Fitzsimmons' proposed townhouse project on Catherine Street.

Photo courtesy of the city of Ann Arbor

“We have done, in the Old West Side, the Water Hill district, Kerrytown and Burns Park, I think right around 31 new homes,” he said.

He added: “We fly it below the radar quite a bit because we try to blend in with the neighborhood.”

One of the challenges of the Greek Church site is an easement with neighbor McKinley Inc. for 57 parking spaces, which was agreed upon when The Gallery project was proposed.

Fitzsimmons said he met with McKinley representatives 60 days before the property went to auction, and he is confident he will be able to provide those parking spaces with the development he has in mind.

“It appears that we will be able to build a project at a significant density that makes sense for us to build there…and provide adequate parking for our condos and provide the necessary parking for McKinley — the 57 spaces,” he said.

Although Fitzsimmons’ proposal comes amid an intense development boom in the downtown area, he’s not worried about competition or over saturating the housing market.

“We’re pretty excited about the site and to have this opportunity to build in that area, because we feel there is a need for more housing…we see ourselves as the alternative to what is being built in downtown Ann Arbor,” he said. “We are niche builders and it has kept us going.”

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



Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

This sounds so much more reasonable than the previously proposed project.

Robert D. Mosley

Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

If this increases property values and that is good for the surrounding community, then something good is coming out of this. But, I also agree with the writer who would like a building that respected the historical character of the surrounding community.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

Ann Arbor City Council needs to take a step up and tell builders they need to look no so modern for this area of Ann Arbor. This is an historic district area. Boy is this McCondo going to look like a sore thumb. Good luck to the neighbors who have to put up with the dust.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

Good deal, hope something nice comes out of it.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

With the MichCon cleanup taking place, and some homes along N Main being renovated, I have a feeling that the property values on the strop on the north side of town are going to jump.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

Huron Contracting LLC is also the one who is demolishing that fine old (1901) all brick house in the 500 block of North Ashley in order to build a McMansion duplex.

lowly renter

Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

yohan, it became a pile of rubble yesterday. no buffer for residents of building 1 foot away [and port-o-john next to bedrooms]... for that matter, permit was not posted or any public comment sought; developer pal of the city gov folks?