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Posted on Sun, Jul 22, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

What's next for the student housing project proposed for Grace Bible Church site in Ann Arbor?

By Lizzy Alfs


Brad Moore, local architect from J Bradley Moore & Associates, shows the site plans to attendees of a public feedback meeting for The Grove in February. file photo

Plans for The Grove — a student housing project proposed near Ann Arbor’s South Maple and Pauline Boulevard intersection — are on hold while the developer appears to consider other locations.

The project is for a 15-acre site just south of the Grace Bible Church building off South Maple. The church owns the property and has it listed for sale at an undisclosed price.

In January, North Carolina-based developer Campus Crest Communities proposed the construction of 10 to 12 three-story apartment buildings, totaling about 224 units each with two or three bedrooms.

The project is part of Campus Crest’s branded 'The Grove' developments across the country.

The group operates 33 student properties in 18 different states. The “resort-style” compounds offer a variety of high-end amenities, such as volleyball courts, a fitness center, a pool and bistro.

But when the Ann Arbor project was proposed to nearby residents in January, it was met with resistance.

About 50 members of the community attended two public meetings held earlier this year while the developer pitched the project.

Attendees raised a handful of concerns. Most notably, people were concerned about the site’s distance from the University of Michigan campus.

“This just doesn’t seem to make any sense,” one resident said in January. “I mean, why bring [students] out here? I think this is some kind of a dream that somebody thinks they can rent these things out.”

Another added: “Bottom line is we moved into this neighborhood to get away from campus. With you building right there, we all just might as well move back downtown.”

Among the other issues cited: stormwater management, water pressure issues, traffic and transportation, home values, safety, and whether the demand for student housing can support another apartment project.

Perhaps in response to the concerns raised at the public meetings, a local architect working with Campus Crest indicated the development may not move forward at this site.

“(The) project is on hold,” said Brad Moore of J Bradley Moore & Associates, via email. “(The developer is) talking to another potential site owner — a site a bit closer to campus.”

Moore declined to provide additional details about the developer’s plans. Campus Crest representatives did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

City planner Matt Kowalski said, via email, the City of Ann Arbor has heard “absolutely nothing” from The Grove developer since the public meetings.

“I have heard from a representative they are no longer pursuing the project,” he said.

The site on South Maple Road was first a target of development when the controversial 42 North project was approved in 2008. Plans for the student apartment complex included five buildings, 120 units and 494 parking spaces. It fell apart when the housing market went soft and the site plan expired in late 2011.

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


Jack Eaton

Mon, Jul 23, 2012 : 12:12 a.m.

In September 2008, as Council was considering the second version of the 42 North site plan, the South Maple neighbors sent a letter to the Council noting various grounds for rejecting the site plan and wetland mitigation plan. Among those arguments, we pointed out that the City's wetland mitigation ordinance included requirements that were violated by the 42 North plan. Council ignored the requirements of the wetland mitigation ordinance and approved the site plan. For a discussion of the wetland mitigation requirements, see our page: On February 8, 2012, representatives for the Grove development held a second citizens participation meeting with the South Maple neighbors. At the meeting, I asked whether the developers' plan complied with the wetland mitigation ordinance. A representative of the developer said that they intended to proceed under the terms of the previously approved wetland mitigation plan. We have since learned that the prior wetland mitigation plan had expired and the City was requiring the Grove developers to submit a new wetland plan. I believe the developers understand that they cannot comply with the wetland mitigation requirements for that site and have decided to look for a different location for their student housing project.


Mon, Jul 23, 2012 : 12:03 a.m.

The headline poses the correct question: what is next for this tract? Two different developers have looked very closely and determined that it is not suitable for high-density housing. The collapse of the townhouse apartment projects just north at Liberty demonstrate that medium-density residential is a challenge on that side of town. Might the leadership at Grace Bible Church not seek to discern a best use for the property; perhaps they can negotiate a sale to the City itself, so that it might remain undeveloped as either nature or parkland. Perhaps there is an opportunity to serve the ministries of the church there directly. Those choices would forgo the option of the large payday, but might be the best answer overall....


Mon, Jul 23, 2012 : 12:01 a.m.

If this land is up for sale, would it qualify as a potential land purchase for the city's Greenbelt of lands surrounding the city of Ann Arbor?


Sun, Jul 22, 2012 : 10:17 p.m.

Good news for some, not for others. The fear is that Mr Moore will bring more of his "architecture" downtown or to the near downtown. He has done enough damage already with City Place and other projects. Could we not ask that he go and pollute some other town?

say it plain

Sun, Jul 22, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

hooray, glad to hear they're thinking twice about this location! Praise be granted by Grace Bible Church, you may have been saved from selling your land, left to you by a congregant who wished it to be used for bible study and religious retreat, to greedy developers led by a man who won't even take care of his own children--the devil's plan if ever there was one ;-) A bit of grace here then! Now, we just have to hope that this group cannot find a suitable parcel in town *at all*, because they have a terrible reputation for messing with their tenants. They probably realized that even *they* needed to be closer to campus if they wanted any tenants at all. The way Ann Arbor is set up to utterly block one's timely driving (or even bussing!) into town from the outskirts of it, they'd not be able to retain college students for too long once they'd gotten fed up with missing half their classes. Wealthy UM students would likely rather pay a couple hundred dollars more per year in rent and be within shorter commutes! Maybe here "the Grove" will be expanding their business model to see if they can 'upscale' it a bit successfully and still screw their tenants! Maybe now that the student ghetto lands are being abandoned for the big towers they'll find a parcel of old houses they can tear down and make a smaller-scale complex with a pool and clubhouse, charge their highest rents of their whole corporate portfolio, and add the bang of happy stockholders to their Ann Arbor buck! Woohoo!


Sun, Jul 22, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

Why not call it affordable housing? Then everybody will be happy? Nobody wants to live near "college students" but "affordable housing people" are the kind of people that Ann Arbor residents know and love! Maybe make a special camping section for the "Occupy Crowd" and/ or the "Camp Take Notice". Come on Mr. Moore, know your neighbors and what the like!


Sun, Jul 22, 2012 : 5 p.m.

I wondered the same thing, so did a little research on the other Grove Communities this company runs. They sound like glorified (and privately owned) dorms and not true apartments, which explains while they're all in university towns. Not to mention the many reports of shoddy construction, paper thin walls, rude/ineffectual management, inadequate facilities for residents (one garbage compactor for 22 buildings), refusal to make timely repairs (two weeks without running water?), changing leases without consent, unreasonable/un-itemized charges, lack of security and safety measures, and refusal of any sort of accountability.

Linda Peck

Sun, Jul 22, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

I hope this complex is not built on the far west side. It truly does not make sense as "student housing." It is also way to large a proposal for this area. We have just about enough density out here right now.


Sun, Jul 22, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

Excellent! Best news I've heard about the site since the evil "40 North" developers were tossed out on their ear. The reams of complaints about this last developer from the tenants in their "The Grove" communities, the criminal-filings and litigation from elsewhere, were fairly damning. Funny how the only developers have been these far-right power-players from out of state...I guess the church doesn't care that the money comes from scumbags that cheat on their taxes, spit on the poor, and think women are sub-human...oh wait, those are all things that many churches seem to support these days, never mind!


Mon, Jul 23, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

A2K, What rights of yours have been attempted to be taken away?


Mon, Jul 23, 2012 : 11:47 a.m.

If being included in "tolerant" means I have to sit with my mouth shut and eyes closed while some (not I said "MANY" not "ALL" churches) religious people attempt to take away my rights as a woman, well, I'm proud to be intolerant. I just assumed that Grace Bible Church embraced intolerance, anti-woman stances as they have selected two companies with far-right owners/far-right policies as the developers two times now. Perhaps some reporting as to why no local/Michigan businesses were selected would have changes my opine somewhat, but alas. Perhaps it was just chance these two companies were selected...and that tax-cheating, no-child-support-paying, lying, anti-women's-rights, manifest-destiny dirtbag companies are legion.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sun, Jul 22, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.

a2k...nice scattergun shot at churches. Do you have any evidence that this is the prevailing attitude in this particular church, or are you just dumping on all religion? If the latter, I consider that pretty danged intolerant of you.


Sun, Jul 22, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

I agree with the resident who said it doesn't seem to make much sense putting student housing way out there.


Sun, Jul 22, 2012 : 10:25 a.m.

Indicted or indicated? "...a local architect working with Campus Crest indicted the development may not move forward at this site." Does anyone ever proofread these things? Must be because they are ambiguous. Or is that ambivalent?

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Jul 23, 2012 : 11:11 a.m.

Thank you kindly for pointing out the mistake. It has been corrected.


Sun, Jul 22, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

Spell check? Since when??


Sun, Jul 22, 2012 : 11:12 a.m.

No there is little proofreading, remember spell check does it all. lol