You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 7:26 p.m.

7-story apartment building planned for ex-Fox Tent property near downtown Ann Arbor

By Paula Gardner


Melanie Maxwell |

Neighbors of the former Fox Tent & Awning business near downtown Ann Arbor are learning what to expect from the development of the property: a seven-story apartment building with two levels of underground parking.

The building - called 618 south main - is expected to contain 200 apartments, according to a petition.

That's the information included in a recent mailing to neighbors as Urban Group Development Co. plans its public meeting before submitting site plans to the city.

The meeting takes place from 5-7 p.m. Friday, and the site plans will be submitted by the Nov. 28 planning deadline.

No information was included in the notice about the size and configuration of the apartments.

The property at 618 N. Main is bounded by South Main, South Mosley and South Ashley.

It's been for sale since Fox Tent closed in late 2010, with developer Dan Ketelaar confirming in June that he had the property under contract.

“I’m not interested in talking about it yet,” Ketelaar said at the time, “… until we get further along.”

Ketelaar was part of the original development team that launched the 601 Forest student high-rise on South University that's been rebranded The Landmark. He's listed as the resident agent of Urban Group Development Co., which was formed in 2008, according to state records.

The property is zoned for a five-story development, according to city records.

Neighbors of the property are a mix of homes and businesses, including commercial tenants on the property that will be proposed for the development.

This story will be updated.

Paula Gardner is news director of Contact her by email or Twitter.


Daniel Ketelaar

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 12:23 a.m.

One of the unique elements regarding the location of this parcel is that it has two faces; it fronts on two different communities. To the east is the busy South Main Street with mainly commercial buildings in the immediate area and, just beyond, the long-established Fingerle Lumber. The west edge of the property is bordered by the much quieter South Ashley Street and the "Old West Side" near the much-loved Washtenaw Dairy. As developers and designers, we have spent a great deal of time considering how the redevelopment of this site would affect two diverse parts of our Ann Arbor community and how we can be sensitive to that in the design. We believe we have achieved that goal. We invite all parties to come to an Open House and project discussion at the Fox Tent and Awning location this Friday, November 11, from 5-7pm. The Ashley Street side door will be open. Parking in the lot is welcome.

Daniel Ketelaar

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 12:22 a.m.

I'd like to offer a few facts in response to the article and comments on the proposed 618 south main apartment community. The property for the proposed redevelopment has a D-2 zoning-- a downtown zoning classification with a height limitation of 60' (not 5 stories as reported). D-2 zoning also provides for a maximum of 400% FAR (Floor Area Ratio – which translates into 400% of the size of the underlying parcels). The property is approximately an acre in size and although that would allow roughly 172,000 sq ft of building or buildings on this site, it is not our intention to reach that maximum size. One advantage of the Fox property site to residents and the neighborhood is that it is only two blocks from downtown Ann Arbor – walking distance for most of us. A few other clarifications: The property is not in the flood plain. It is not a student housing apartment. The 618 south main redevelopment is specifically designed for young professionals and, hopefully, some "empty nesters" that have an interest in living in a great environment within walking distance to town and the campus. This will be an all rental community.

say it plain

Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 3:31 p.m.

But, @Veracity, wasn't Ashley Terrace condos, not apartments?! Yes, they were overpriced for sure... But maybe the cost-benefit analysis for developers whose skin only stays in the game for a little tiny while is different on apartments?! There are the actual investors to worry about too, but even they maybe only need to rent for a couple lease-cycles, call it a success, and sell out their shares in the investment, right? It almost seems like it would be worth their while at times to *subsidize* ridiculous rents if need be so that the numbers look good for the construction costs...yes! And that's *precisely* what housing looks like when you're catering to college students, d'oh! The *only* market currently getting loans from the Banks, and noooo surprise, given that one of the few sources of consumer credit these days is for the obscene levels of college costs we tolerate!


Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

If this apartment building gets built it will most certainly fail as a business. Construction costs remain high and an underground parking structure is particularly expensive as is evident with the underground parking structure next to the library. Furthermore, no demand for new apartment construction has been established and the population of Ann Arbor is not expected to increase during the next five years. In addition, the high rental rates (likely over $1000/mo for a one bedroom) will deter interest as happened with Ashley Terrace. And I wonder if developer Dan Ketelaar realizes the competition his apartment building will face when Georgetown Mall, offering 230 apartments, and Village Green's Ann Arbor Apartments, offering 156 apartments, are constructed. Unfortunately, developers do not really care if their buildings make money as they all get their generous fees off the top of the financing when it is obtained. Few developers have personal money at risk over the long term and thus avoid the risks of business failures, such as with Ashley Terrace most recently. Very likely this development will fail, leaving an empty and possibly unattractive building as testimony to injudicious approvals by the City Planning Commission and by City Council. Not only may this project blight South Main Street but the city may not benefit financially by TIF payments when the project enters bankruptcy.

Seasoned Cit

Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 3:31 a.m.

AGHHH We must say NO to this... can you imagine what that many people in the area will increase the the wait for ice cream at Washtenaw Dairy ??? P.S. the underground parking area will also allow for boats on trailers so there should be no problem with the flood plain. Cars don't drown... so having them parked underground is no problem.. except for someone foolish enough to drive in when it's full of water.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 7:06 p.m.

It is not about population density as it is about simple supply and demand. Near by this property is the Ashley Mews condos, about 2 blocks north. A few blocks to the NW is the old Eaton building Lofts condos. At the corner of Ashley and Huron is that high rise condo complex. There's the new high rise going up off Liberty and Thompson. All of these dwellings are 7 years old or less, some much less. From a practical standpoint, there is no need for another high rise apartment building within this small radius of other new apartment and condo units.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.

Do you understand the difference between a condo and apartment? If not, I will explain. A condo is OWNED by somebody. It requires a mortgage. You pay an association fee for the common areas. An apartment is owned by a developer. The developer is responsible for repairs. The tenant pays RENT. If the market is young professionals and graduate level students, please give us a vacancy rate in those types of apartments throughout the city. The fact is rental demand has risen DRAMATICALLY since 2007. Finally, what do you think it costs to get a condo at the lofts, or Ashley Mews versus an apartment. Find me a comparable rental place in that area that would attract the demographic the developer is looking for.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

let us see if the project ever gets done and what the rents will be?

Mike D.

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 6:22 p.m.

Bravo! This is exactly the kind of development that will promote density in downtown Ann Arbor. The people who live in this neighborhood do so because they want to be close to town, which is vibrant because of population density. To suggest that no more people should ever be allowed to live close to downtown (the logical result of not allowing apartment buildings close to town) is to suggest that we push our growing population out to the suburbs. Does anyone really want this? I have a suggestion: If you are so opposed to density, go get yourself a nice McMansion in the Polo Fields.

Mike D.

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 6:49 p.m.

Vitriol? Nastiness? Are you saying it's nasty to tell someone to move to the Polo Fields? If you oppose urban density, that's exactly what you're promoting, so I wouldn't think you'd see it as nasty. It's simple logic.


Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 2:25 a.m.

Typical bullying tactic,...if you are so opposed to density, blah, blah, blah. If anyone dare to disagree, just slip in this kind of vitriol every time. It's so easy to be nasty instead of contributing to the discussion intellectually. This sounds more like talking points from the developer or interested parties not someone who wants what's best for the old west side.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 5:13 p.m.

The Old West Side Board has now held two meetings on this development. Dan Ketelaar made a presentation. He has also provided materials from the application that will go before the Design Review Board next week. Discussions so far have focused on the new D-2 zoning, pedestrian experience, building orientation on the parcels and set backs. Reasonable size of apartment units, green space and neighborhood interface have been among the positive proposals by the development group. We will know more after we hear from the Design Review Board. We are also recommending a citizen session then as well.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 6:09 p.m.

This is the same Dan Katelaar that developed 601 Forest and planned this project up by Northport in the Leleenaw I would assume? <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 5:10 p.m.

The NIMBYism on display on these forums never ceases to amaze me. This is a high density development on the main street of the sixth-largest city in Michigan. This is the sort of growth and planning that makes cities like Ann Arbor attractive and sustainable, and this is where development like this should be put. This isn't a sixty story building in the middle of a neighborhood. Complaining about shadows while eating your ice cream is absolutely laughable. I live directly across Mosley Street from this lot and I welcome this project. Sure, I'll be mildly inconvenienced by noise and traffic while it's going up, but this is Ann Arbor. If I want that sheltered of an existence, I'd move to Canton or Shelby Township.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 6:50 p.m.

NIMBYism implies that the people here are impacted by the development. Most of the comments on here are from people who don't live anywhere near the development but are so staunchly anti-development that they feel compelled to trash the idea. BANANAism may be a better descriptor of the attitudes here - Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.

Paula Gardner

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

I'm still trying to update this story and have not reached the developer. However, I realize I left the location of the meeting out of this story. The meeting is 5-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, at the Fox Tent building, 618 S. Main - but the notice tells people to enter from the South Ashley side. Also, the developer can be emailed directly with feedback:

Marilyn Wilkie

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

Google Ann Arbor, MI Click on the map Locate S. Ashley Drag your little man to street level Plop yourself down in front of Affordable Pet Service Do a 360 degree turnaround That shows you how much this nice neighborhood would be effected by a 7 or a 5, story building. And I can guarantee once the door is opened for this, others will follow. Money can buy anything.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 5:28 p.m.

&quot;shabby, run down&quot;..really ?..As one who has sat out front of Affordable Vet waiting for my pet's apt or the opening of the clinic, I have enjoyed chirping birds, landscaped front yards, cute porches, nice clapboard and other homes with large windows. A very nice quiet street. did you have some obscuring glasses on to call this block shabby? townhouses or a low rise building might work and keep all parties satisfied.The worst would be &quot;Corner House&quot; shabby architecture.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 4:33 p.m.

I see a row of homes with character. I see the people in those homes walking out their front doors and seeing a big modern but cheap box looming over them.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

I agree. Area will look nicer when it is developed and finished.

Anthony Clark

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 2:47 p.m.

Okay, I did that. I'm not really seeing the &quot;nice&quot; neighborhood you describe. It looks like a shabby, run down industrial area that could only be enhanced by new construction. Any new construction.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 1:53 p.m.

This reminds me of 2005 all over again. If this developer thinks students will live there, he doesn't know the market. 200 more apartments...really, do you think there is that much pent up demand? Less than 50/50 chance this will get off the ground (literally).

say it plain

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 7:05 p.m.

I agree with @Tesla here too... I think that the right market for these units would be grad students, who typically want something less high-rise, more quiet than do undergrads, and young professionals who are interested in being near downtown, and don't want to be rendered immobile anchored to a house/condo. These days buying houses isn't about as hassle-free as finding a rental. If this will provide decent quality decent priced units for these kinds of folks, they might be filling a niche and I'd be happy for it...


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

Don't forget that nearly every day here it seems some new high tech medium sized company is moving into the downtown area and these single 20/30 somethings love these urban high rises. I also think that the developers and eventual owners if it's not the same people have done their due diligence and demographics, and I am sure they have deep enough pockets to withstand a few vacancies. Now....I would prefer they buy some of the available housing in the area, but no one can get a loan half the time and these young people are mobile and need everything now.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 1:30 p.m.

It's the height of the proposed building, Rusty. Seven stories - even five - would dominate what is generally a neighborhood / single business mix area. Although the scale would mesh well with the new box seating down and across the street a bit further...

rusty shackelford

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

Fair enough I suppose, though apparently the parcel is already zoned for up to five stories, which to me seems reasonable.

rusty shackelford

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

I know that hysteria generally makes little sense, but I'm genuinely puzzled as to how this would &quot;ruin the neighborhood.&quot; Most of the immediate area on this block is surface level parking lots not open to the general public. Not sure how this would be &quot;ruined&quot; by putting up a building that would likely include new retail for the neighborhood as well as additional customers for existing businesses.

say it plain

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 6:59 p.m.

i bet it's the proximity to the dairy that is a large part of it, which is somewhat valid, given how important that landmark/meeting-place is to the OWS. I think its location, while really ideal in some ways for more and denser rental housing, also will make it feel to some OWSers that downtown is encroaching in less 'appealing' ways than before... It's okay to put in brownstone overpriced townhouses, and overpriced condos of many other sorts, so long as they have a high-gloss finish and upscale look...but put a building near the train tracks and the seven-eleven that *renters* might afford, uhoh, not so sure about that! It'll be interesting to hear more about the target market for these units...

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 1:06 p.m.

Lovely. Another ugly building in the works for A2. Happy, happy, joy, joy.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 9:01 p.m.

1. So you have seen the plans or the finished product? 2. I guess the Fox Tent building is BEAUTIFUL in your eyes? 3. Ones persons ugly is another's beauty.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 2:11 p.m.

So you've already seen the plans? You're certain it will be ugly? You must be the developer then, eh?


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.

Oh No. Enough is enough! Where are the urban planners? Where is the Old West Side Association? This plan is so serious, it will erode our quaint Old West Side neighborhood. Please do not this.

say it plain

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 6:54 p.m.

I don't it *sarcasm*?! It truly will mess up the old west side though, so it will be interesting to see what that OWS association and other forces over there have to say and do about it! It only really totally messes with the near-downtown OWS, and those are a little more on the investor-owned part of the housing-concerns spectrum, aren't they?!


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

This is sarcasm. Right Sunshine? lol


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

Just think of the traffic congestion during football Saturdays. Going to be a nightmare out there. Glad I moved out of Ann Arbors way.

rusty shackelford

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.

&quot;Are there not enough places for sale and for rent in this town?&quot; For sale, yes, if you can afford it. For rent, no. I have years of direct experience with this issue. The non-car-dependent rental market in A2 is quite tight. For the most part quality is poor (mostly chopped up single family homes with grotesque layouts, with a side dish of disgusting lowrises with mildewy carpet and bathrooms) and the price is much too high for what you get both in terms of housing quality and the town itself. For point of comparison, one can get a nicer apartment in many nice, walkable neighborhoods in Chicago than one can in general in non-car-dependent parts of Ann Arbor (and unlike here, you probably won't have to pay your own heat bill). More supply can only push down rents in the long run, which is good for density and diversity in Ann Arbor.

say it plain

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

I agree with you on this project... I think the Dairy across the street's vibe will be totally toast as a result... hope I'm wrong, and it might depend on the street-front set-up of the building whether it would ever feel 'okay' there again... But I do think if it would be something *other* than undergrad-style housing, then it could nicely add to the rental stock in town and help make it all better... I *don't* want to see another weird set of flophouse units like City Place is! I would like to see housing that the vaunted &quot;young professionals&quot; or &quot;graduate student/early-career&quot; singles and couples could live in happily!

rusty shackelford

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 12:58 p.m.

&quot;For point of comparison...&quot; --I meant for the same price, obviously. Otherwise it's not really a comparison.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 12:54 p.m.

I feel sorry for the neighborhood. especially those who will live in a constant shadow of a 7 story high rise. i would hate it.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 3:17 p.m.

I could not agree more. There are homes there with 2 and 3 stories in it and with a 7 story apt high rise anyone on that side can actually look into someones window and see you dressing. Kind of frightening if you ask me. First City Place and now this? Guess Ann Arbor is wanting to look like another Detroit.

Dan Darbor

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 7:38 a.m.

Goodbye Overture Audio? Goodbye Delux Drapery?

rusty shackelford

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

agreed, sellers. it's not like either of those businesses relies on foot traffic.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 12:31 p.m.

Nahh, they can find alternative locations.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 4:58 a.m.

Seven stories but zoned for 5! What's the purpose of zoning laws if the city approve this stupid project of 200 apartments! Why not condos like the ones across from the stadium for homeowners and families that fit in with the neighborhood? This is just another greedy real estate plan with no sense of community, commonsense or financial stability for Ann Arbor. Does anyone know about the problems the other apartment units down main street are having filling their empty apartments. This is the most insane idea ever! Is anyone thinking about the potential traffic problems the construction of this misguided idea alone will bring? As for that line at the Dairy...the construction project alone will 'destroy' Washtenaw Dairy if that is built as stated above. Furthermore, what about the traffic after this fiasco is built? In which direction will cars enter &amp; exit? If on main street, carry good insurance and pray. If on the street facing the Dairy, all that wonderful foot traffic by neighbors, families, children, Vet office and others will be greatly impacted in the most dangerous of ways. How about this crazy construction project &amp; apartment during a UM home game? All interested parties should attend this meeting to stop yet another crazy and misguided project from being approved by our elected official who are suppose to represent &amp; protect the city. Call me crazy but they maybe too stupid to see the potential problems.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 5:47 a.m.

I'd go for seven stories if, and only if, the ground floor is retail space open to the public.

David Frye

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 3:37 a.m.

I think an apartment building here will be a great addition to the neighborhood. Among other things, it could give some needed business to the shops across the street in the South Main Market and help maintain the mix of residential and retail that gives the neighborhood its character. It's a short and easy walk to downtown, and on the bus line to Busch's and the mall. Great location for an apartment building.

say it plain

Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 3:21 p.m.

I definitely understand the concerns of homeowners in this neighborhood...this might be quite disruptive and feel just too close...I probably would have felt that even the Ashley Mews project was seeming like an encroachment if I were living in that part of the OWS. But, you have to admit...the apartment stock @Somargie refers to as &quot;apartments fitting into the character of the neighborhood&quot;, are outdated bigtime and over-priced. If this development is approved, it will be over-priced no doubt, but it will force the less desirable older units to lower rent, which might fill them up too, thus increasing downtown density. Unfortunately for that part of the West Side, it is a buffer zone and a natural place for this kind of 'urban' expansion, isn't it?!


Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 2:33 a.m.

There are already apartment buildings in this neighorhood which fit in with the character of that neighborhood. Total ignorance of what's best for this neighborhood. Yes, there's a short walk to the bus line to Busch's and the mall...and multiple empty apartments down the street near Busch's and the mall and people can walk instead of taking the bus.

Linda Diane Feldt

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 12:14 p.m.

It may help business on the east of Main, but the cost may be the elimination of the equally deserving businesses on the West side. I'm thinking especially of Overture Audio, which specializes in outstanding customer service and has been at that location for decades. A seven story apartment doesn't fit well into that location, which is an entryway to downtown, the beginning to a stable neighborhood, and an existing enclave of mostly local small businesses. I hope it can be developed thoughtfully, and with respect for the surrounding areas.

David Frye

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 3:32 a.m.

The Fox Tent lot may look like it's at the same elevation as Fingerle's, but any bike rider will tell you that it is a few feet higher. According to Ann Arbor flood plain maps, along W. Madison Street the flood plain zone heads east from the Ann Arbor railroad line about a block to around 4th Avenue. In other words, Fingerle's and not much else. For the floodplain maps, see: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> (Note, the interface looks like a web design from circa 1994). The map for this part of the city is: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 2:05 p.m.

Thanks for the links. You are right, this map shows that the fox tent site is not in the floodplain. But that doesn't mean that it won't be perpetually freakin moist 25 feet underground.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 3:31 a.m.

Why 7 stories when it's zoned for 5?


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 1:28 a.m.

This lot is right down the street at the same elevation as the Fingerle yards and thus in the flood plain? If so how is an underground garage with two levels possible?

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

Hmm, don't you know that developers can skirt any provisions provided they grease the wheels of the city enough? The argument, a while back was to U of M was unable to alter or expand their property holding next to Fingerle because of the flood plain and Allen Creek. Yet, now this developer gets carte blanche?!


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 2:14 a.m.

Agreed, two underground levels is simply not going to be feasible here. I would suspect only one basement level and perhaps also a concealed ground-level parking deck. If the zoning for this property says 5-story max, then no way this gets approved at 7. Too big in general! Look around, mr. developer. You are out of sync with your surroundings.

Linda Peck

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 1:19 a.m.

Why or why do we need another faceless high rise with underground parking? Are there not enough places for sale and for rent in this town? I am dismayed that the low rise, gentle neighborhood will be transformed by a looming building wherein we will sit in its deep and dark shade to eat our cherished ice cream. Oh sunshine in the summer! Oh ice cream dripping over tiny fingers!


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 6:13 p.m.

Your adjectives are interesting Linda. Faceless. If it has a face would it be okay? What does faceless mean in re to a building? Looming/high rise. Is 7 stories looming? Tower Plaza at 26 stories is looming as is U Towers at 18 stories. But I am not sure 7 stories qualifies as &quot;looming.&quot; How high does a building have to be to be a &quot;high&quot; rise? More than one or two stories? Searching online I can find no definition of what a high rise is. Perhaps a high rise is any building with an elevator. Political decision making has reversed in A2 over the years. For a while the idea of tall buildings was shunned by council until recently when the prospect that the more people that can be crammed into the city limits was determined to be positive fiscally. To expand horizontally rather than vertically means more people may move into the city rather than into the suburbs taking up the green space.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 4:18 p.m.

Oh it's serious Rusty. Stick around. It gets better.

rusty shackelford

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 12:53 p.m.

Can't tell if this is parody or serious.

Linda Peck

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 2:22 a.m.

Yes, Dan, you are right of course, except that this building is directly across the street and its height will cast a shadow for quite a bit of the day in that neighborhood, not just on the benches where we like to sit, but also on the sidewalks.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 1:36 a.m.

Things change. Also, sun rises in the east, sets in the west. The building will be to the east of Washtenaw Dairy, so if you're eating ice cream anytime after 11 AM or so, you won't be in the shade.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 12:58 a.m.

Oh no! The line for ice cream at Washtenaw Dairy is going to get longer. When I need ice cream I need it NOW!

Mike D.

Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 6:12 p.m.

Luckily, Washtenaw Dairy sells Stroh's ice cream. When you need it, go to the grocery store and buy the same stuff!


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 12:48 a.m.

This is generally good news. I would think zoning on Main would support higher than five story. It all will depend upon the facade and elevation. The south Main area could use the continued growth, the 7-Eleven does brighten the area at night.