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Posted on Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Long-stalled west Ann Arbor condo project to get new life as apartments

By Paula Gardner


West Towne Condos will be renamed Blue Heron Pond.

Melanie Maxwell |

A west side condominium building - started in 2005 but never finished - soon could finally be operating as apartments under a new owner following a mortgage sale and pending foreclosure.

A single building of West Towne Condominiums has stood for several years at the corner of West Liberty and South Maple, part of an eight-building, 87-unit project led by developer Michael Concannon.

The first building - containing 11 units - was built in 2007 and its condos were marketed for sale at the same time.

However, funding concerns and the slowing real estate market stalled the project. More recently, lender Fifth Third Bank sold the loan - for an undisclosed discount - to an entity of local building company Norfolk Development Co. in August.

Now that company is foreclosing on the note, which was signed in September 2005 and has an outstanding debt of $5.386 million.

It’s also making plans for the property, where Norfolk work crews have been preparing units for their first residents.

“We’re just stabilizing the property,” said James Franke of Norfolk. “It fell into stagnancy and it just needs to be brought back to life.”

City officials are close to issuing certificates of occupancy, he added, and they’ll be marketed shortly.

The project also gets a new name: Blue Heron Pond.


Condos at West Liberty and South Maple as they looked while the first and only building on the property was under construction.

City of Ann Arbor

Norfolk has developed many residential projects in Washtenaw and Jackson counties, including single-family home and condos. Among its projects is Summerfield Glen, located just to the west on Liberty.

That project is sold out of existing units, Franke said, and Norfolk will build another building on the site this spring.

In the meantime, it continues its work in Alabama and Tennessee, and is considering its options for its most recent Ann Arbor acquisition.

“We’ll get them ready for residents and rent them while we figure out what to do (with the rest of the property),” Franke said.

The rental market, he added, is strong here.

Blue Heron Pond units will rent for $900 to $1,800 per month, Franke said. According to previous marketing materials, the apartments are 931 to 1,876 square feet.



Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:05 a.m.

I live across the street, and I am very happy to see people working on the building. I am sorry that Mr. Concannon lost the property though. The front of the building faces the pond (where the blue heron hangs out). The garages are in the back of the building. To "Youwhine": I have lived here for 11 years, and I have never had any problems from any of my neighbors at Maple Meadows nor Pine Lake. This is a GREAT place to live--anything I need is within a couple of blocks; the bus stops across the street; and it's safe.. The rents do seem a bit high. Guess I'm out of touch with the cost of renting in Ann Arbor. Seems like the biggest barrier to renting there will be the continuous construction--eight more buildings to go.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:58 p.m.

It's too bad that this development and so many others in the region got caught up when the market collapsed in 2007. Of course it's not such a bad thing when the big developers like Pulte and Crosswinds got stuck with a bunch of developed lots and half-built homes that they couldn't sell. I was hoping that there would be a big sale and the little builders would be able to afford a few lots to build homes on when the market recovers (as it seems to be doing now).

Elaine F. Owsley

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 7:50 p.m.

Doesn't Concannon have some other properties that have gone belly up?


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 5:41 p.m.

$1800 a month? Seems like a lot to pay to have to worry about all the criminals in Pine Lake and South Maple Estates breaking in and stealing your stuff while you are at work every day. What a bad location.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 5:35 p.m.

AANative: ugly to you but the building is 'smarter' since the cars are parked under the living structure instead of making more land impermeable by constructing detached homes for the cars. BlueMarker: The approval process is guided by city ordinances and there are no ordinances that stipulate the city must consider market conditions for a building project. It costs $$ to petition the city so I'm sure Concannon didn't see the market tanking at the time since he didn't have the benefit of your hindsight.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 4:33 p.m.

I'm glad something is finally happening with this building. Hopefully, we've seen the last of Mr. Concannon's failed projects and the banks aren't giving him any more money. I'm sure the people in Saline are pretty disgusted with the hole in the ground off Michigan Ave. that Concannon left there for others to deal with.

Buster W.

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 5:28 p.m.

But at least it's no longer a hole in the ground.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 3:24 p.m.

Why not name it "We Couldn't Make It As Condos"?


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

I think, "We Built It, But They Didn't Come" might still be available.

Brian Kuehn

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 4 p.m.

The name was already taken, as were "Oops", "Condos Did Not Sell, Now Apartments" and "Bank Would Lend Us Money So We Built It."

Blue Marker

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 3:17 p.m.

My question is how did this project ever receive city approval in the first place? The market was in a down-turn by '05 and occupancy rates were already low. If that weren't enough a look at the drawings showing a 10 garage door front should have been enough to kill the project. The condo project just up the road on Liberty is still struggling to sell its units and that was there when this was approved. I think the city has some explaining to do.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 5:18 p.m.

Under what pretext would the city reject a proposal from a developer to develop land within appropriate zoning codes, simply because they thought they knew better as to the financial viability of the project? It's up to the government to decide if the building belongs there from a zoning point of view. It's up to the developer and his or her financiers to decide if the project is viable.

yellow dog

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 2:36 p.m.

My husband... being in the lumber business... spent many hours and days working with this man giving quotes and doing all the leg work and being told he had the sale of the job. This Concannon turned around with all work and numbers then gave the sale to a competitor lumber company. This is not only a " no-no" in business...but not the way to be a decent person. Mr Concannon has gotten what he deserves...what goes around comes around!!


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 4:20 p.m.

Look at it this way: at least your husband didn't get stiffed on the bill for the lumber.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

T. Archer. I would hope that the Contractors that were not paid have liens in place. If the Contractor did not place a lien, shame on the Contractor. The lien process is part of being in the Construction Business.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

Anyone in contracting should know the steps they have for recourse in getting compensation. Mr. Concannon is the debtor. If the liens were filed on time for the work done, they could have been foreclosed prior to the mortgage foreclosure within the allotted time period. If nothing is done, you lose your chance to recoup the money. If the liens were valid and on record at the time of the foreclosure, but after the mortgage date, they are in second lien and you would have to fight the foreclosing bank for the money. The new note holder is not responsible and it sounds like any lien filed would be expired at this point. It is unfortunate that it is the small contractor who is damaged and in some cases, run out of business, by these people with bad business practices.

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

That is a really pretty building. West Towne Condos will be renamed Blue Heron Pond and will still remain an eyesore.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 12:59 p.m.

That is one ugly structure, pavement and garage doors are all I see. This design welcomes autos not people, wheres the entry?


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

I think it looks much nicer if you view it from Maple, looking across the pond. The view shown would've been the interior court of a multi-unit complex.

T. Archer

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 12:03 p.m.

That's all well and good for Norfolk, I'm happy that someone is benefitting from the property, but what about the dozens of contractors and companies that provided goods and services to Concannon that haven't been paid for their contributions to the building of the condos?


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 1:22 p.m.

As with anything else that will need to be taken up with Mr Concannon. They had contracts with him not with Norfolk. It would be like if a giant bookstore chain went out of business and left a landlord with an empty building without paying any more rent. My advice to any contractor or person providing services for any company, is to not extend credit terms beyond a very short period. Contractors should demand some money up front, and payment in installments until the project is complete. Write it in to the contract. If they miss payments, stop the work. Too many contractors and companies were so desperate for work, that they took huge risks on extending people credit. I would suggest that if they can not pay promptly or get a loan from the bank to pay for projects, it is not likely to be a successful project at any point.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:54 a.m.

Looks like Mr. Concannon has had troubles with several projects. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Jamie Riddle

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:48 a.m., you should have someone proofread a story before it is published. &quot;Norfolk will built another building&quot;, shouldn't it read, &quot;Norfolk will build another building&quot;?

Some Guy in 734

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 1:18 p.m.

It's also hard to sift through the head-thumpin'-bad errors in the STORIES (emphasis yours) on this putative news source. If they can get that whole written English thing down, the STORIES will be far easier to parse. Two main thoughts: hooray for more rental properties, I guess, but sad to see them at that price point. I guess I thought the ~$2K/month crowd was already seen to pretty well in Ann Arbor. And secondly, that lone unit reminds me of how much I'm looking forward to the return of &quot;Arrested Development&quot;.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 12:56 p.m.

But Some Guy in 734 and Jamie, what are your comments on the STORY?? I'd rather see that than constant complaining like a grade school teacher. It's hard to sift through all of the grammar complaints and get to what people think about the STORY.

Some Guy in 734

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

Justcurious: I'm going to go ahead and posit that Jamie is not the news director of a digital media company that still (despite its best efforts) carries its predecessor's whiff of adequacy.

Paula Gardner

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.

That one slipped through. Thanks for pointing it out.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:58 a.m.

Jamie, in your comment, shouldn't &quot;shouldn't it read, &quot;Norfolk will build another building&quot;? be a completely new sentence with the &quot;s&quot; in &quot;shouldn't&quot; capitalized?


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:39 a.m.

I always wondered why that stood empty. Thanks for the update.

5c0++ H4d13y

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:28 a.m.

Finally something is happening over there.