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Posted on Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Plans, rendering revealed for 6-story apartment building proposed for downtown Ann Arbor

By Lizzy Alfs


A rendering of the 618 South Main apartment complex, which is proposed for the former Fox Tent & Awning site near downtown Ann Arbor.

The developers of a six-story apartment complex proposed for South Main Street at the former Fox Tent & Awning site in downtown Ann Arbor are moving forward in the planning process.

After meeting with members of the community for feedback on the project earlier this month and submitting preliminary design plans to the city's Design Review Board, site plans have now been submitted to the Ann Arbor Planning Commission.

The plans show a six-story, 140,000-square-foot building on approximately one acre of land situated between Main Street and Ashley Street, bordering Mosley Street. The proposed building has studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, duplex and penthouse units. It also includes 138 underground parking spaces.

Young professionals ages 25 to 35 are the target demographic for 618 South Main’s nearly 200 apartment units, according to the plans.

It could also attract “empty-nesters wanting to live close to town.”

The developer is Dan Ketelaar of Ann Arbor-based Urban Group Development Co. The architect is Mike Siegel of Chicago-based VOA Architects.

The building, which is described as a “warehouse redevelopment for an urban living community,” is a simple, brick structure with steel and glass infill and recessed residential balconies.

Local buildings that the plans site as inspiration are Liberty Lofts, the Argus buildings and the Bach community grade school.

The complex intends to provide a “hotel-like experience with amenities and services rather than typical apartment living,” which includes lounges, a business center, a fitness center, a community garden and a pool. An outdoor community space accounts for about a third of the site area to provide “green spaces” for residents. The outdoor areas can be used for “quiet conversations, group cookouts and gatherings, active exercise or poolside socializing,” according to the plans.

Preliminary plans for the complex went before the Ann Arbor Design Review Board on Nov. 16.

The city’s design review process requires developers to submit plans to the Design Review Board for suggestions prior to applying for site plan approval.

Suggestions included improving the pedestrian experience along South Main Street by visually breaking up elements of the building and moving the setback further from the street.

The board also suggested enhancing the Ashley Street courtyard design to provide opportunities for interaction between residents of 618 South Main and pedestrians walking past the open space.

“Thought should be put into fencing that provides adequate security but allows visual connections to and from this open area,” according to city documents.

The board recommended removing one level of underground parking to mitigate the tall garage wall along South Main Street. Members also inquired about traffic safety issues at the entrance on South Main Street, which will be analyzed by the city transportation engineer.

At a meeting with the public on Nov. 11, residents who attended voiced concerns about increased parking in the area, whether the height of the building will block current views of the Ann Arbor skyline and the effect of having a large number of new residents moving to an established neighborhood.

City Council Member Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, encouraged the developers to take a proposal to city officials to potentially narrow Main Street to one lane in either direction in front of the complex.

“It would be difficult, but it would get a tremendous amount of buy in,” he said. “This is a project for the community and would help do a great deal for the community for traffic calming.”

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



Fri, Dec 2, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

1. Traffic calming is only indirectly related to climate change. The main purpose is to avoid the kind of situation you have in the suburban landscape, where a human outside of a car is left vulnerable and dehumanized, while those in cars are isolated and self-centered. The bonus reason is to incentivise bike-riding. 2. Those seeking to block new housing and increased density are essentially homeowners seeking to install a moat around Ann Arbor, driving up rents for the rest of us until we are forced to move. There is demand to live here. It must be met with supply. 3. They should definitely ditch the parking/wall at ground level (if I understand the design correctly) and put some of that shared activity stuff there with transparency towards the sidewalk.

Gordon Larsen

Fri, Dec 2, 2011 : 3:01 p.m.

Building needs to be moved back from street/sidewalk enough to allow street to keep Main Street current width. If they can do this without narrowing Main St in front of complex, it isn't all that bad. Smaller something-maybe units or courtyard or common space. Sounds good, but looks terrible as shown. Who wants to live in Michigan Stadium??? The trees are going to get too big if planted as drawn. Space them out more. A scattering of units with the recessed style shown in the drawing on the second floor (with man in recess) might be more aesthetic, but I'd want to see it. And maybe only 5 story.

A Pretty Ann Arbor

Fri, Dec 2, 2011 : 12:06 p.m.

Lizzy your article title is INCORRECT - this project is NOT EVEN CLOSE to the DOWNTOWN border line. Should have the word NEAR downtown - like the other articles about this disaster to a neighborhood have been. There would be no traffic calming it would just make things worse in an area that already has quite a few problems. Why lately are neighborhoods on the chopping block - what happened to the city I loved? I could support something one or two stories but please no more apartments!


Tue, Dec 6, 2011 : 4:15 p.m.

This project is in the downtown--not by geography but by the zoning. Which is why it can be 7 stories and not subject to OWS guidelines.

pooh bear

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

The Chicago connection here is very obvious--and a good thing. Chicago has had so many conversions of commercial buildings to residential that they are experts at doing this. I'm so glad because our local architects show an amazing lack of vision and imagination. This building will look very good on this block. I'm surprised about the traffic calming though. This is Main St., a major corridor, and needs to fulfill this function for the entire town.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 5:57 p.m.

This resembles the building a little ways north on Main Street, at Madison, I think. And it is not out of character with the U of M stadium. Main Street seems a logical corridor for this type of construction and use. I wonder is the proposed number of underground parking spaces is adequate for the proposed residential units? If so, that should have little or no impact on local resident's ability to park on the street. I sure wouldn't want to not be able to get my Washtenaw Dairy fix.


Tue, Dec 6, 2011 : 4:18 p.m.

The proposal is 200 units and 140 parking spaces. Because the residents will walk to their jobs downtown and not need cars. Just like all the people who walk or take the bus to the Y on Washington. You might need to start biking for your Washtenaw Dairy fix.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 4:48 p.m.

It's a very cool project . . . the type one expects to see along Main Street of a small town where increased density has been targeted as a major goal by consultants, city government, and the community. The community? "No way", you might say. "We don't want this project in our neighborhood. Too many people, too many cars, destroys neighborhood character and fabric, no need/demand for more student housing (whether targeted for students or not), takes away our light! The community? Yes. The new zoning overlay districts became legal in January 2011. Public involvement was an integral part of the approval process in the creation of the overlay districts. Although it is sad to hear many explain distress over loss of view amenities, it is a fact of life. Air rights typically go with property footprints. That someone enjoys view amenities over another's property is a gift, not a right. Moral of the story? Know and understand the zoning and master plan for your property and neighborhood, or that of the one you consider purchasing. Don't like the zoning and master plan? Either work to change it, live with it, sell affected property, or don't buy in the first place. Sound harsh? Maybe. If so, it's the smack of reality. Ouch . . . : (


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 4:53 p.m.

Right on!

David Paris

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

This proposal is no Liberty Lofts, but maybe a slight improvement over Ashley Terrace, which isn't saying much. Even in the artists rendering the walls are so thin that you can almost see though them, in other words, it looks to be designed Down to a price-point, not to be substantial and long lasting, it would only resemble Liberty Lofts when viewed in Google Earth! And "traffic calming" on MAIN street? Where were these architects last Saturday? I swear, This Town Is a Desert Wasteland of Architectural Ingenuity. If what we've seen in the recent past is any reflection of The Taubman School, I'm not impressed. "The building, which is described as a "warehouse redevelopment for an urban living community," is a simple, brick structure with steel and glass infill and recessed residential balconies." The above sentence should be edited to say '..."a warehouse development for urban living" is a simple Steel structure with Faux Brick and glass filler'. Abort, Retry, Fail


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 2:08 p.m.

Yeah, let's "calm" the traffic on yet another N-S corridor through town. Brilliant. Is that building going to look totally out of place or what? Isn't that part of the OWS historic district there?


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

just make sure they have a completely unobstructed view of the gorgeous 7-eleven across the street.. Maybe with luck, a rite aid will open up right next door to them.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 12:56 p.m.

Ugly. The developer needs a better architect. We have enough ugly red brick buildings in A2 already.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 12:12 p.m.

Ugly tall building and crazy comment -"City Council Member Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, encouraged the developers to take a proposal to city officials to potentially narrow Main Street to one lane in either direction in front of the complex. "It would be difficult, but it would get a tremendous amount of buy in," he said. "This is a project for the community and would help do a great deal for the community for traffic calming."

G. Orwell

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 11:55 p.m.

@johnny I guess you fell for the whole charade. Here are the facts: 1. Prof. Mueller is a fraud. He supported AGW before claiming he is a denier (term used to associate AGW skeptics with Holocaust deniers). So that Mueller can come out later and claim he was wrong and AGW is real. Thus, deceptively giving AGW credibility. 2. What the article purposely leaves out is that Bill Gates also funds Prof. Mueller. And Bill Gates wants CO2 emission levels to be close to ZERO! This psychopath basically wants to kill million to billions of people. That is the only way you can reduce CO2 levels to near zero. CO2 that is essential for life on earth. Don't let them fool you.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 10:19 p.m.

Orwell, Dont let facts get int he way of a good lie. It is typicla of climate change deniers. Please let us know your credentials to call it a hoax? The leading denier of climate change put out a study funded by the oil companies and the Koch brothers. Guess what? Oh never mind, I will put the link up and let you read it for yourself. It wont matter. People like you never read the details, only the headlines. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Go ahead and turn back on Fox News and get all the lies fit to produce.

G. Orwell

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 3:51 p.m.

&quot;traffic calming&quot; means restricting automobiles from the city center of Ann Arbor. These people are insane and believe they know what is best for all of us. Forcing their agendas on us based on bad and corrupt science of man-made global warming. More emails have been leaked that confirm again AGW is a hoax. Hoax designed to steal money from the public by imposing carbon taxes as they have done in Australia and to control societies by restricting our freedoms on the guise of saving the earth. One scam after another. When will the public wake up and say no more?