A couple of weeks ago, the Ann Arbor City Council in a 9-2 vote approved the tallest building to be built in Ann Arbor since the construction of the Tower Plaza, a 26 story apartment building on William
Ts in the 1960s. This new building will stand 180 feet high, exceeding the current zoning limits, but it is being allowed because the developer is making use out of an exemption to the height maximum by adding 19 units ear marked for affordable housing. There are to be 13 units for tenants that make 80% or less of the area's median income, and 6 units for people at 60% or less. Although the current zoning requirements state that a development would have to have far more affordable housing units, in this case 72 at the 60% level, city council decided to allow this anyway. The rest of the building will comprise of 466 total beds in 51 studios, 90 one-bedroom units, 39 two-bedroom units, 14 three-bedroom units, 25 four-bedroom units and 21 five-bedroom units, as well as 5,438 square feet of ground-floor commercial space.
To make way for the new construction, 4 rental homes, and office space will be demolished along Washington St. The proposed development site is behind the Michigan Theater, which is located on E. Liberty St.
Some residents argue the project violates the city’s standards for the State Street character overlay district, which state, “The intent for this district is preservation of the integrity of the historic district properties and the overall historic character of the area, with design that includes features of the traditional commercial storefronts at the sidewalk’s edge.”
The high-rise will be in the middle of much smaller historic buildings like First Baptist Church, First United Methodist Church, UM’s Lane Hall and the Michigan Theater, said Ethel Potts, a former city planning commissioner. (Courtesy of MLive).
Construction for this project has yet to be determined. With its proximity to University of Michigan central campus, and a few blocks from the hospital, it will no doubt be an attractive location for students and medical professionals. Currently Washington St. is not quite as high traffic road as others between Division and State, but certainly the climate, traffic volume, and the fundamental look and feel of that neighborhood will soon change. How increased population, and traffic to that corner will be addressed is currently being debated, with several people opposed to the development. (Building photos courtesy of MLive)