Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Plymouth/Green Development Proposed as Mixed-Use

19. October 2004 • Murph
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The Ann Arbor Planning Commission will tonight hear a proposal for a mixed-use complex at the intersection of Green and Plymouth Roads, featuring a bank, restaurant, and three buildings with condos above retail space. The project was designed to fit into the City’s draft Northeast Area Plan, which calls for denser “activity centers” at several intersections along Plymouth, which is currently developed in a very suburban pattern of strip malls and research and office parks.

From the Ann Arbor News:

[Developer David] Kwan said the area, which is dominated by large employers such as drug maker Pfizer Inc. and the nonprofit research group Altarum Institute, has a lack of retail and eateries. And although the 7.5-acre site is zoned for research uses, it stands along a busy commercial corridor where retail wouldn’t be out of place.

Although the plan mixes uses, it has raised a few concerns among city planners.

Jeffrey Kahan, the city planner who reviewed the application for the rezoning, said restaurants, banks and retail shops require more parking than offices and residential housing.

The City has had problems before with faux “New Urbanist” developments begging out of parking requirements and suffering from shortages, probably contributing to Kahan’s reticence—the recent Whole Foods / Barnes & Noble complex on Washtenaw has been highly criticized on this front.

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  1. Going into editorial mode,

    As a 5 year resident of the Plymouth corridor, I’m happy to see somebody proposing a design 20% less surburban than what exists along that corridor. I’d be even more happy, though, if the city took some concrete action to ensure good development in that area. I’m sure that Kwan’s development will include, for example, parking lots and a bunch of superfluous landscaping between the buildings and the street, and the buildings will face the parking lots, probably with their sides to Plymouth. And two of five will still be sprawl-style single-story buildings.

    I’d like to see the buildings address the street/sidewalk on both sides; Green and Plymouth. A little bit of a setback is reasonable, Plymouth being a total traffic river, but the buildings should still face the street, without intervening parking lots. And all of the buildings should have condos atop them – not just a few of them. breaking the development into five buildings is also iffy; hopefully they’ll at least be close together to present a strong facade.

    Look at me, talkin’ like an urban design major…

    Anyways, this is probably the best design the Planning Commission is going to pass right now.

    (/me goes back to filling out an application for a Planning Commission position)
       —Murph    Oct. 19 '04 - 09:30AM    #