In Our Opinion: Projects in Ann Arbor need ongoing support
The slow economy leaves uncertainty in its wake - and some change among Michigan’s businesses and communities seem a certainty.
In a town like Ann Arbor, which attracted significant development interest for years, the changes could mostly involve unfulfilled opportunity.
Here are five potential or pending projects in Ann Arbor that we hope won’t fade away due to lack or interest - or capital.
1. Redevelopment of the former Greek church on North Main Street. Do plans for The Gallery still make sense for Ann Arbor and for developer Mike Concannon? The answer for coming years may well be “probably not.” But this highly visible parcel just north of downtown in the city’s M-14 entry corridor begs for something. In the short-term, we hope demolition - now nearly two years behind schedule - happens soon.
2. The land cleared for the Shops at Huron Village on Washtenaw. Will Ann Arborites ever pull into the parking lot to shop at the Ann Taylor Loft or Talbot’s? Doubtful. But even with a soft retail market in Michigan, this prime commercial property begs for a high-value use. In the short-term, maybe a dog park? Skate park?
3. Any property with Huron River frontage. Ann Arbor long ago turned its back on the river, with the city and University of Michigan growing up blocks south of it. Yet this waterfront corridor started to get some attention about five years ago as some in town recognized the potential to capitalize on it. We may still have our Greenway hopes but some waterway interest would serve the city well, too.
4. Broadway Village at Lower Town. This may be the longest duration for an unrequited project in the city, which may be fitting given its history as both controversial and enormous. The reasons for building on the site still exist - it offers an excellent location with proximity to downtown and U-M’s Medical Center, and it could become a gem for residential and destination retail. Yet in the meantime, we could look at fencing and broken concrete for some time.
5. Glen-Ann. Residential construction isn’t on many priority lists right now, but could that be different this close to U-M? This property symbolizes how the city’s anti-development stance cost developers time and money. This one may end up a leading indicator for development’s rebound.