New owner of Upland Green restarts the Plymouth Road development
Upland Green, located on Plymouth Rd. Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com
Work on the building started several years ago, marking a then-new wave of mixed-use development on a former auto salvage yard on Plymouth Road.
Now, thanks to news owners and their financing, a local team has been working to get the residential space - now 20 apartments, instead of condos - ready for occupancy by Jan. 1.
With the opening of the model unit in December, the new owners will conclude a project that’s been waiting for its final stages since it was submitted as a plan to city officials in 2004.
“We look for properties that are having difficulty coming off the ground and need attention,” said Raymond Eshaghoff, principal at BSG Management Co. of New Jersey.
They found that at Upland Green, where the shell of the building on Plymouth Road across from the University of Michigan’s North Campus raised questions for years about when the project would be completed.
A series of stops and starts, related to financing issues with two previous investor groups, plagued the project.
Yet its retail spaces attracted sought-after restaurant tenants - Panera and Qdoba both operate there - as the street-level stores fulfilled the vision of original developer Bill Conlin for expanding quality retail space in the Plymouth Road corridor.
And now, with the upper two levels on the fast-track for build-out, Upland Green will get its chance to test the market for the residential component of the project.
“I think the location makes the property a gem,” Eshaghoff said. “The caliber of the commercial tenants speaks for itself.”
BSG acquired the property in late summer, after buying the mortgage as part of a bundle involving four different properties.
Eshaghoff would not disclose the price, but said, “This property was being traded for Â½ of what it was being marketed for a year and a half ago.”
City records show the property sold for $3.025 million in 2006 as Conlin’s original partnership closed on the land, previously Diehl’s auto parts. In 2009, Ann Arbor officials assessed the property at just over $5.3 million.
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com
The partnerships behind Upland Green struggled with liquidity, Eshaghoff said.
But his group is well-capitalized after 20 years and millions in investments and can see the project through to completion, he said. That includes the lease and build-out for the recently opened Great Plains Burgers.
“We are privately financed company,” Eshaghoff said. “We do syndications mostly with distressed properties and assets that need a lot of attention. We have a team that we bring to the table that can quickly finish a project and bring it to is maximum potential.”
The liquidity problems that plagued the project don’t reflect the overall value and potential of Upland Green, Eshaghoff emphasized.
“The location of it is phenomenal,” he said. “ It’s not often that you get a chance to (acquire) such a beautiful property in an upcoming area. We’re proud of it.”
BSG plans to lease the property, and keep it in its management portfolio, Eshaghoff said. The company already manages about 500 units in several states, including one other Michigan property - a multi-family building in Detroit.
Conlin remains active in the project, Eshaghoff said, as a joint-venture partner.
And architect Damien Farrell is leading the local construction effort as some of the original plans are shifted from condos to apartments on a fast timetable, and floor plans undergo minor revisions.
“They’ll have somewhat of a loft feel to them,” Farrell said.
Finishes include maple Shaker-style kitchen cabinets, granite counters with undermount sinks, marble tiles in the baths, wood flooring and private balconies.
Marketing for the apartments will be done by Angie Rasmussen of the Charles Reinhart Co. Prices will range from $900 to $2,400 monthly for the one- to three-bedroom units.
Meanwhile, site plans allow a second building on the two-acre property. It was originally planned for offices, but that could change.
After finishing the apartments and leasing a remaining 900-square-foot retail space in the first building, Eshaghoff said, “We’ll revisit the issue and see what the market bears.”
Paula Gardner is Business Director at AnnArbor.com. She can be contacted by email, (734) 623-2586 or via Twitter.
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Sat, Feb 13, 2010 : 2:51 p.m.
The property's location is actually perfect. Close to the hospitals and across the street from the campus. Living on top of Panera can't be all that bad. Its actually cool to be able to go downstairs and lounge in the cafe and do some work.
Thu, Nov 5, 2009 : 3:55 p.m.
I guess converting them to apartments instead of condos is a good idea, the market for condos is already bad and with the parking expansion unfinished, I'd think most would be hesitant to buy a condo at that location. Personally, I would not want to live in a unit on the same side as the gas station, because of the potential smell and noise problems, but that's just my opinion. Who is the target market for these units? UM students, UM faculty/staff, both? How do the prices compare to the large new university apartment complex across the street? Also, are renters guaranteed specific parking spots or would they have to compete with the customers dining at one of the three restaurants there?
Thu, Nov 5, 2009 : 3:13 p.m.
Living on top of an old junkyard is probably worse than living next to a gas station.
Thu, Nov 5, 2009 : 11:31 a.m.
One thing that I find interesting about both this and Plymouth Green Crossing is how they're mixed-use, urban style housing outside of our core downtown. That was a big move here mid-decade as the city pushed walkability/density. Original plans did not include housing for Upland Green, if I'm remembering correctly - it was office and retail, but the city urged residential development and it turned out that the office market softened anyways... So while someone driving by might say they wouldn't want to live next to a gas station or whatever, the feel in both of these properties is a more natural blending of building uses. We're just not used to seeing them outside of downtown. The market will end up telling us if people respond to them, but on my recent visit I found myself wondering about that as I drove in - but after a few minutes didn't think at all about nearby buildings, traffic, etc.
Thu, Nov 5, 2009 : 11:22 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Farrell, for taking time and care to respond.. I have visited the referenced site on numerous occasions and have found the project to be very cool. Nice work!. I send well wishes to the new owners, businesses, and future residential tenants.
Thu, Nov 5, 2009 : 11:13 a.m.
As the current architect of record, I feel that a response is due to some of these points. The Picker: I'm not sure which group you are referring to with your comment about "stiffing". This project has had a rocky, tough and intermittent "birthing". There have been several groups involved; architects, owners and contractors and from my position, the fact that Upland Green will actually be completed in early '10 is unexpected in itself! The real estate world is at a position that is 180 degrees from when this project received site plan approval. There are also a number of factors that have impacted this project in its development that I cannot expect anyone who has not been intimately involved in Upland Green to be aware of. The reality of a situation where a project stalls and a third party steps in to try to complete a project, is that in order for financing to be obtained, the debt load has to be reduced as far as possible, as just 1 factor of many. Add to this mix, the previously unheard of difficulties of raising money today and the reality becomes that everyone working on Upland Green, and I do mean everyone, had to discount their receivables as 1 part of making the completion of this project a possibility. It was a long drawn out process getting the financing in order and completing all the legal and administrative processes that a transition such as this takes. The other option was no payment at all, to any parties involved, and had the new owners not stepped in (if that's who you are referring to?)that would have been the new reality. The rents have not been established and there is a range of sizes from 1 bedroom to 3 bedroom units. The rents will obviously range accordingly and the $900.00/month number is speculative at the moment. Answering to Rick789 points; The current parking lot is paved to half it's final size. This was a decision made when the real estate market changed so dramatically and it became blatantly clear that not only was the continuation of the project with the construction of a new office building at the rear of the site inappropriate at this time, but that none of us expected the popularity of the restaurants to be what they are. Something we are obviously delighted by! Not the best speculation on our group's part, but I assure you that we are currently working to address the issue. Please also bear in mind, that while construction is currently on going for the apartments, we do also have to accommodate construction vehicles and traffic during this time. As to fresh smell of gasoline, there are countless occurrences of this same situation throughout the country, particularly in our cities and fringe areas around cities. Corner gas a=stations have always been an integral part of the fabric of our towns and cities...you only have to go as far as Main Street in Ann Arbor, where 2 gas stations sit surrounded by mixed use projects and offices and I am not aware of the problems you talk about, nor any reduction in real estate values, nor desirability, as regards its proximity to a gas station The owners and operators of these facilities are held to extremely strict standards regarding the exposure of gasoline to the environment and and I suspect would be perturbed that one of their properties could negatively affect an adjacent property. Rosy12 sums up my thoughts about mixed use projects better than I could. Thank you! Damian Farrell, AIA. LEED AP
Thu, Nov 5, 2009 : 10:03 a.m.
Bruceae, obviously a lot of people would want to live at Plymouth Green Crossings since there are only a couple left to rent. Both properties offer of "loft style living" is attractive to a good majority of people.
Thu, Nov 5, 2009 : 9:53 a.m.
Sorry for the confusion on the location. This project is the former Diehl's auto salvage yard, just east of the Courtyards. Here's a Google map to help with the location: http://tinyurl.com/yc7gwhv The other project is Plymouth Green Crossings - very similar in that it's also mixed use, on that corridor, condos converted to rentals due to market conditions.
Thu, Nov 5, 2009 : 9:45 a.m.
Bruceae, these are not the same units at Plymouth and Green, they are at Plymouth and Murfin, walking distance to North Campus. Regardless, who would want to live there? The parking is atrocious and who wants to live next to a gas station?!? Open the windows and get a fresh smell of gasoline. Ahhh.
Thu, Nov 5, 2009 : 8:32 a.m.
It's just a bad property and location. Plymouth Road on one side and Green on the other. A view of either parking lots, a retention pond or that fenced in area where they were going to build the 2nd building. There are lots of condos in much better locations that you can rent for $1000.00 a month.
Thu, Nov 5, 2009 : 8:15 a.m.
Too bad this group stiffed all the parties that got them to this point. $900 studio apartments? Good Luck,you'll need it!