Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Liberty block may face redevelopment

14. January 2005 • Murph
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The block of Liberty Street that hosts Le Dog and a number of other businesses was auctioned yesterday for $1.6m, with Dale and Beverly Bell beating Beverly’s brother Tom Clark for control of the property. Six developers participated in the bidding, but Bell and Clark were the final two, aided by the fact that each would receive half the winning bid.

The Ann Arbor News discusses the Bells’ plans for the site, which may include a seven-story mixed-use building,

Bell will be required to come up with the money for the land within three weeks. As to what happens after that, redevelopment into something else is almost certain.

“It’s inevitable the property must be developed eventually,” Bell said.

Rian Bauer, project manager for local attorney and developer Michael Concannon, said he already has been talking to Bell about building a seven-story building with retail on the first floor, sub-surface parking and six stories of condominiums.

To build something that tall, the Bells likely would need to acquire the properties directly south of the land fronting East Liberty Street. That might not be difficult considering they already own half the interest – along with Clark – in a rental house on Thompson Street and are talking to the other property owner, Dale Newman, about buying his Division Street property.

Newman, who also attended the auction, told Bell following the sale that he would seriously consider his offer on the land.

Such a building would be of similar size to the TCF bank building across the street. As discussed in the previous AU thread on this issue, redevelopment often means the disappearance of current tenants due to increased rents, but fits into recommendations for increased downtown residential space to maintain the viability of other businesses.

  1. “To build something that tall, the Bells likely would need to acquire the properties directly south of the land fronting East Liberty Street. ... [including] a rental house on Thompson Street …”

    Rob/Ari—does this threaten the venerated Hobbit Hole? I can’t remember which house it is, but I think it’s the one immediately south of the house on the corner of Thompson and Liberty, right—and it sounds like that is the one they’re referring to.

    I hope the proposed building is a “good” one and not another crap high-density proposal that pro-density folks might be reluctant to defend…
       —Scott T.    Jan. 14 '05 - 02:33PM    #
  2. As I noted in the last thread, continuation of ownership in the same family didn’t necessarily mean the property won’t be changed.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jan. 14 '05 - 03:25PM    #
  3. I don’t know offhand what other properties Concannon has been responsible for developing.

    Anything that includes land in that area and “subsurface parking” is going to be $$$ enough, though, that I’d expect him to put enough effort into the project to make it a worthwhile building. And “ground floor retail, condominiums above” is close enough to my and Brandon’s mantra that I’m curious to see what he comes up with.
       —Murph    Jan. 14 '05 - 03:53PM    #
  4. Google to the rescue (regarding Concannon). See this Dec 30 AA News article

    He’s planning another project of 7 buildings/87 condos on Liberty at Maple (think far west side).

    It looks like he joined the Home Builders Assoc. of Washtenaw County in 2004:

    Other links suggest he’s a runner, a lawyer, a real estate appraiser and has other connections to real estate…
       —Scott T.    Jan. 14 '05 - 05:53PM    #
  5. Whats the Hobbit Hole?

    thanks for any info
       —Just a Voice    Jan. 14 '05 - 06:46PM    #
  6. I found that article too, but didn’t think it said anything meaningful about what he might do here. (Especially since that project isn’t built yet, so we can’t go poke around it.) We need a database of who’s developed what around town…
       —Murph    Jan. 14 '05 - 06:52PM    #