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Posted on Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 5:52 a.m.

Construction starts on City Place student apartments in Ann Arbor

By Ryan J. Stanton

Construction has begun on City Place, a student housing project being built on Fifth Avenue in Ann Arbor, just south of William Street and downtown. The project has been controversial as many residents and even city officials believe it's out of character with the neighborhood. Seven houses were demolished in recent months to make way for the development. The developer is hoping to have the project finished in time for University of Michigan students arriving in the fall. Ryan Stanton captured these photos of work underway at the site.

For more information on City Place, see our past coverage of this issue.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

Will any parents refuse to pay more so their college students "children" can live above the level the tallest fire department ladder can reach? Check out new "student" housing on Division St. and decide how high up you'd want a loved one to live in a city that has eliminated some of the firefighters needed to handle equipment and to possibly fight more than one "manpower" intensive fire at a time. The argument about surrounding communities helping isn't comforting because surrounding communities may need Ann Arbor's help.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

This is only the beginning. When the new buildings are actually built and people see the full scale of the barbarism of the developer and the architect, only then will the real outrage start. Let us remember that City Place was designed to scare people into voting for something else and was therefore designed to be as disgusting as possible. The people who are putting this up should be glad we live in a society in which their licensees cannot be taken away for aesthetic crimes. They have a right, by law, to build crap and pollute our town, but we should all remember them ...


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

meh looks nice to me.

Real Life

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 11:38 p.m.

Only in Ann Arbor is private development considered "controversial". I don't recall any outrage over university sponsored Stalinist student housing tearing down the old Ann Arbor High School and building another "student ghetto" at State and Huron. Let's not forget, we've spent tons of (useless) money buying greenbelt property precisely to force more housing within the city limits. And now the same people complain about more housing in town. Give me a break.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

These are apples and oranges. Moreover, there were many people who complained about the tearing down of the old High School--this is selective memory. However, whatever one thinks about the replacement of the Frieze Bldg. by the new construction, no one could compare what went up there with the junk architecture that will be City Place.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

Never fear. In a hundred years, these buildings will also be torn down to make space for a new development.

John Spelling

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 5:20 a.m.

I disagree. In 100 years the neighborhood will be an historic district and this development saved for all eternity to enjoy.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

Cannot avoid adding: If citizens and A2 government had their priorities straight: there'd be a success we could all be proud of. That is: a massive effort to bring in a large grocery store - with pharmacy- and large (gasp!) department store to the downtown area. With this unprecedented building boom, it seems forgotten that even "office staff" have need to run out to get groceries or maybe household goods before going home. And right now, U of M says they have ~27,000 students (2000 more than they want!) who also would like to have closer (walking distance) access to these kinds of stores. (Plus, U of M employs hundreds of people in "regular jobs.") I for one am sick of having to travel to the fringes of Ann Arbor and beyond to get, for example, pillow cases or greeting cards or a bath brush. Not to mention: an affordable bag or two of groceries to sustain me for more than a day. The transformation of Ann Arbor into a metropolis is well under way and there seems to be no way to stop that. Well, one thing that could stop it would be to make grocery shopping a safari to outlying areas which are in no way convenient (or sensible). City dwellers have little need for cars - unless of course they're forced to take on that added expense for the sake of a bag of groceries. Any improvement in mass transit is still years away and even then we won't know if that provides enough flexibility and convenience until it's up and running.

shadow wilson

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 4:30 a.m.

you must not be from ann arbor. Once there were pharmacies and drug stores and department stores and it was not all that long ago.Now we go to the mall or westgate or arborland etc more Klines and Quarry drugs and lucky drugs, a&p on huron long ago..........your wish aint gonna happen any time soon .


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

Is Busch's downtown? No. Hiller's? No. Whole Foods? No. Trader Joe's? No. Kroger? No. You must know something they don't. If you believe you have the market sized up, why don't you get into the grocery business downtown?


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

" I for one am sick of having to travel to the fringes of Ann Arbor and beyond to get, for example, pillow cases or greeting cards or a bath brush. Not to mention: an affordable bag or two of groceries to sustain me for more than a day." hahahahahahahha, sorry, this is just too funny.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

Peoples Food Co-op. Kerrytown.

Marshall Applewhite

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 7:01 p.m.

Thank god those POS houses are finally gone. This is a win for the people.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 6:46 p.m.

Assuming these buildings get built my question is how are students going to afford to live in them?


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 12:30 a.m.

Didn't you read the article that said most students can't afford Michigan. The ones who are here aren't poor starving students anymore.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 6:33 p.m.

Too all you whiners, I wonder how many of you want your property to be "special" and not be able to do what you want with it. Every single one of you had an option to try and buy the properties, if you made a larger offer than the person who bought it you could have. Oh wait, you want to force the owners to keep a property. I hope you never want to sell. If you are so interested in saving old run down buildings, BUY THEM. Funny how people think they own something because they look at it. IT IS NOT YOUR PROPERTY. You are probably the same types who want to live in an HOA that tells you your lawn must be 3/4 inch, and if it goes above an inch you will be fined, or if you park your car outside of your garage you will be fined. Get over yourself.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 12:31 a.m.

"Every single one of you had an option to try and buy the properties, if you made a larger offer than the person who bought it you could have. " Another "let them eat cake!" moment on


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

You deserve: about 1000 votes of approval but lets us vote just once. I still hope you get those 1000 votes. Well done!


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

Just to be clear, Mayor Heiftje and Council Members Smith, Derezenski, Higgins, Teale, Rapundalo and Taylor all supported Heritage Row which would have saved the houses. It was Briere, Hoehnke, Anglin and Kunselman who voted against it. The demise of the houses and part of Ann Arbor's history falls squarely on the shoulders of these four.

John Q

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 1:30 a.m.

No, it falls on the shoulders of the developers who demolish the homes. No one else.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

What I see is the replacement of "old" student slum houses with something fresh and new. Change is inevitable and in this case that change is for safer, up to date code, and better living conditions for those who rent.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 4:09 p.m.

I notice: there were never any photos or videos taken of the interiors of these Little Bits of Bygone Days. And the comments lamenting their loss seem to all focus on the exterior appearance of that stretch on Fifth Ave. I guess this movement to preserve those 7 student housing units is based on some kind of "pedestrian experience" for the tiny (but voluble) fraction of this city's population who took strolls down Fifth Ave.? Is that about right? If there were no market for student housing units like City Place, then there would have been no change to that patch of a much larger neighborhood. I happen to know one of the long-time student residence landlords. He's got a lot of respect for Ann Arbor's architectural character but he would be the first to say that this market is not at all sentimental. It's about market demand and nothing else: never has been anything else. "Blame" the University of Michigan for being so oblivious as to have 25,000 students stay in town as part-year transients. "Blame" the parents wealthy enough to send their kids here where they'll willingly pay $1000/month for a place for them to stay. "Blame" the original owners for selling out your pedestrian sight-seeing experience. And of course: "Blame" the city of Ann Arbor for having the biggest construction boom in the state when everywhere else is static. MOVE - to Ypsilanti, there's plenty of mouldering city landscape to admire there.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 7:31 p.m.


Rose Garden

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

Ann Arbor student housing is a black hole. It will never get filled. More units will be constructed.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

And the point is?


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 5:23 p.m.

And it seems that most of the new housing is for the rich student whose parents can afford such places.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

Maybe Ann Arbor could have one of those nice historic plaques made of a photo of the historic houses that were torn down to build this place. They could mount it on the front of the building.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

Oh, the humanity!


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

I've lived here nearly forty years in two installments. You? Sorry, I'm just not automatically enthralled with something simply because it's old.

Marshall Applewhite

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 6:59 p.m.

If you did grow up here, shame on you for not purchasing the homes before the developer could get them. Shame on you for not fulfilling your duty to maintain the neighborhood.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

Obviously you didn't grow up here. Many have no roots anywhere I guess.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

Those pictures show a cemetery, a place of death. And no edifice built of steel, glass and brick will ever change that legacy.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

Same view the houses had.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

If you come right down to it? It is a death of a place that breathed life into this community and now it is torn down and only a memory. I shudder to think what our fore fathers would think if they saw this blight being built.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

How about we move forward from the political blame and take what action we can: organize a boycott of City Place. In the end, it is the developer who chose to construct the monstrosity and ruin the neighborhood. Organize a boycott and see that this project fails and the developer never does business in this town again.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

That's ridiculous. They played by the rules. The Mayors rules. There is a market for the units, they bring in taxes and business to the city, so you'd rather the city lose more money?

Rose Garden

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 4:05 p.m.

I promise I won't rent one of the apartments.

hut hut

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

Yet another hack developer hired a hack architect to design yet another overcrowded student slum.

Lamar Leigh

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 6:34 a.m.

Ever see the rats that were behind those precious Germantown Houses? Already was as slum......

Go Blue

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

Tear it down, leave a blight. Build the new monstrosity, still a blight. Thanks council, you've done it again.

Alan Goldsmith

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

Thanks Mr. Mayor for your 'leadership' on this. Trust me-no one is going to forget as you make any future political plans.