Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Glen-Ann PUD before A2 Planning Commission tonight

5. April 2005 • Murph
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Tonight the Planning Commission will be reviewing (for the second time) a proposal for a ten-story mixed-use building on Glen Ave, which would stretch from Catherine to Ann, replacing Angelo’s parking, two houses, the old Glen-Ann gas station, and Leonardo’s Pizza on Ann.

Planning department officials are recommending approval for Glen Ann Place, a proposed 10-story building at the northwest corner of East Ann Street and Glen Avenue, across the street from the popular Angelo’s restaurant. If the project wins approval by both the planning commission and City Council, developers hope to break ground in September. Construction is expected to last between 12 and 16 months.

When finished, it could provide homes for around 200 people. The developer has not yet disclosed the price range, but they will on the “premium side of things,” said architect William Meier.
. . .
In addition to housing, the building would offer two floors of offices and ground floor retail. The area – which boasts more than 20,000 workers within a half mile, including people at the University of Michigan medical complex – has almost no retail offerings.

“Thousands of people work within just a couple blocks. So there’s a lot more people than they need to sustain the retail,” said Meier.

Meier said likely tenants are a coffee shop, convenience store and maybe a sandwich shop.

The project was tabled at the Planning Commission’s 21 December meeting (21 December 2004 minutes (pdf)); concerns were discussed at that meeting about inadequate parking (the proposal now includes three underground parking levels, with one parking space per housing unit and 32 spaces for Angelo’s and for the on-site businesses), bulk and shading of the structure (a shadow study has been submitted with the revised proposal), and the fate of the two houses, which are categorized as “contributing historic properties”, or not historic on their own, but contributing to the character of the neighborhood.

The benefits the project would bring include improving the pedestrian streetscape of Glen, bringing local service businesses into proximity with the University’s new construction, and (my opinion) hiding the eye-bleedingly bad facade of the University’s new construction from uphill neighbors in the Old Fourth Ward.

  1. I’m swamped, but if anyone reading this is available to speak at the hearing in favor of this dense mixed-use development, I’d recommend it. I’m not sure how strong public opposition from Old Fourth Ward neighbors is expected to be, but it can’t hurt to show-up and support this type of good infill on an underdeveloped site.
       —Brandon    Apr. 5 '05 - 05:22PM    #
  2. I wrote an e-mail yesterday, since I can’t go tonight . . .

    The great irony in all of this is that one of the things I’ve been neglecting in order to blog, write letters, go to meetings, etc. is reading “Bowling Alone” for my Community Participation course.
       —Murph    Apr. 5 '05 - 05:27PM    #
  3. So, does anyone know what happened? I can’t find anything on the A2 News website.
       —Brandon    Apr. 7 '05 - 12:38AM    #
  4. The Planning Commission approved the project. The Historic District Commission will move the two houses somewhere so they will not be demolished. There were only a few people who spoke against it (no one spoke for it). There was still concern that it was too tall but with Life Sciences across the way, it was hard to deny. The Planning Commission started throwing out a lot of random new desired requirements (green roof, parking gate, common roof space, etc.) and proposed all sorts of amendments, but I don’t know if any of those passed before they approved it.
       —Julie    Apr. 7 '05 - 02:02AM    #
  5. Nice! Being at the bottom of a hill probably helped, too… out of sight from most neighbors, out of mind.
       —Brandon    Apr. 7 '05 - 02:12AM    #
  6. I think the nursing building (tall and at the top of the hill) is another bad influence on the area.

    But, that area definitely needs something other than university parking decks and Angelo’s. Price-wise, I’m impressed that they can manage 3 underground levels of parking; before the Commission meeting, it was undetermined whether they were going to include affordable units or buy-out. I expect buy-out – Julie, did you catch that?
       —Murph    Apr. 7 '05 - 02:41AM    #
  7. Murph, affordable housing was one of the contentious points. The developer is still discussing options with the city. Some of the Commissioners wanted to force on-site affordable housing because the concern is that more and more developers are choosing the buy-out and no affordable units are going in downtown. I think they ultimately decided that wasn’t really part of the Planning Commission’s charge at that time.

    Parking was another interesting topic. In order to satisfy the parking regulations, the developer reduced the number of units by making them all two-bedroom units instead of having several one-bedroom units. The retail and office spaces do not have guaranteed parking (they may not have any parking, I couldn’t quite tell). Angelos has eight spots for their employees.
       —Julie    Apr. 7 '05 - 01:35PM    #
  8. Nerdily enough, I’ve got a copy of the staff report on hand: there are 24 parking spaces reserved for the commercial uses (not including Angelo’s).

    Under straight up zoning (not PUD), the development would require between 310 and 375 parking spaces, depending on the type of office (e.g. banks and dentists are high-parking requirement office uses), 2-2.5 times what’s in the PUD. Considering the hullaballoo on the other side of downtown with people claiming we should be subtracting parking spaces to encourage non-motorized transportation, it’s good to see the Planning Commission not requiring vast seas of asphalt . . .
       —Murph    Apr. 7 '05 - 02:09PM    #