Miller btw Miner and Fountain

Stopped. Watched. icon

The days are numbered for a final view of Burton Memorial Tower at the top of the hill heading into downtown. It is now behind the steel framework erected for the latest student highrise on Huron.

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  1. By Barbara Annis
    December 18, 2012 at 11:19 am | permalink

    I noticed the same the other day. How sad that we are loosing not only the beautiful views but also so much of the sky from these over-tall buildings.

  2. By John Floyd
    December 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm | permalink

    Aw…view, schmew. You guys are just stick-in-the-mud, Luddite NIMBY’s who reflexively oppose all change. How do you expect to fund the DDA, anyway? Not by looking at Burton Tower, baby. Only sissies care about sense-of-place or quality of life, and only crazies imagine that this stuff has actual dollars-and-cents value. You want to be some place that seems rooted? Move to Disneyland. You wanna see Burton Tower? Put a picture in your living room.

    It’s one thing to speak self-rightously about how much one “enjoys the diverse views in our community” – just don’t expect The Establishment to actually hear to them, much less listen to them thoughtfully or to reflect on them. Apparently, the Council Party faction members all read Sinclair Lewis novels at a time in their lives when they were intellectually vulnerable, and never really moved on.

  3. By bear
    December 19, 2012 at 10:59 pm | permalink

    John Floyd, shame on you. that said, I imagine the people who live just east of city apartments being built on first and washington are really going to miss their fine view of the sunsets along the western ridge at the city limits.

    Things change. Some would rather still see us as being a rural village stuck in another century. Things change and not always to our liking.

    It was a tradeoff for the greenbelt and preventing urban sprawl by encouraging downtown development.

    Or didn’t we realize that when we voted on that issue.

    I don’t like the idea of downtown ann arbor turning into a mecca for high-rises and skyscrapers, but eventually that’s what it will become. I remember when the buildings on Huron were built near downtown. Then there was huron towers and the high rise on south university before that.

    Life changes and things continue to grow. Or would you rather see a less popular ann arbor that collapses into itself in economic ruin?

    sigh, no pleasing people.

    We have an arboretum that is larger than central park in Manhatten! We have many beautiful places like the martha cooke garden and the law quad. look on the positive side.

    I just talked with a friend of mine who used to live in Southfield when Telegraph rd was a two lane road that saw a car maybe every 20 minutes. He and his friends used to play baseball on the road.

    Nothing remains the same. Most of the houses I was raised in while a child are gone.

    Grieve not the losing of the past, embrace what is now and what is next!

    And for Heaven’s sake, try not to be so snarky. :^

  4. By abc
    December 20, 2012 at 8:15 am | permalink

    Excuse me Mr. or Ms. bear.

    I can detect a fair amount of snark, or implied snark, in your comment as well.

    Nevertheless, you make some fair points but I prefer to make them differently. I ask people if they like their view. When they say, “Yes” I ask them if they own that view. That’s when they get a funny look on their face. You only own the view if you own the land or own a view easement, or you know that whoever owns it will not, or cannot, develop it (like a view to Forest Service or park land), or you know that zoning will not allow that land to be developed to take away your view. Other than that people have little claims to what they view. I think that is your point.

    That said, my real reason to write was to not let your whopper stand as I am opposed to publishing ‘facts’ that are blatantly wrong.

    You wrote, “We have an arboretum that is larger than central park in Manhatten[sic]!” Nope. Central park is over 800 acres and Nichols is listed as 123 acres. Sorry but they are not even close.

  5. December 20, 2012 at 11:59 am | permalink

    Viewscapes really are an amenity that matters. I hope that we don’t lose the one from Hunt Park. I also hope that the design guidelines process is firmed up so that it takes the effect that new buildings have on their neighbors into account.

    Yes, there will be change, but it can be managed. That is the point of urban planning measures such as land use plans and zoning ordinances. Ideally these are arrived at by community consensus of the vision for the future. I don’t think that most residents would agree that our vision for the downtown was a series of looming 15-story towers. Fortunately some of our best blocks are protected by historic districts.

    The “view” has an effect on real estate values. There are plenty of studies showing that development increases around green space areas because of this amenity.

    Note: the “greenbelt-density link” was not something on the ballot that Ann Arbor voters chose. It was asserted after the vote. The Greenbelt millage proposal literature stressed parks with little children and the reduction of congestion.

  6. By Tom Whitaker
    December 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm | permalink

    Adding to the last thought in Vivienne’s comment (5), the high rises being built in Ann Arbor are almost universally for student housing. Only a couple are being built for the sainted “young professional.” But new student housing has no effect on local suburban sprawl, especially since U of M has proven itself incapable of controlling the growth of the student body. Also, most young professionals eventually get married and have children, and a high-rent, studio loft close to the night clubs no longer suits them.

    The “urban density as a counter to suburban sprawl” theory assumes that those who’d typically be attracted to buying a house in a new subdivision will somehow be convinced to buy inside the city limits instead, where it is more efficient to provide utilities and services such as transportation and trash collection. Note I said “inside the city limits” and not just “new high rises in the heart of downtown.” Efficiencies are achieved wherever infrastructure and services already exist.

    Those who choose subdivisions do so because they are generally cheaper per square foot, provide lawns, trees and open space, two or three-car garages, lower taxes, and have the perception of less crime, noise, pollution, etc. If a city really wants to curb sprawl, then the city must provide viable alternatives for those who typically choose suburbs.

    Fortunately in Ann Arbor, we have many such alternatives in our neighborhoods, from the historical areas surrounding downtown, to the mid-century ranches on the outskirts. Unfortunately, because of the downtown-centric focus of our city leadership for the past 12 years, neighborhoods have been ignored or worse. The DDA diverts tax and parking revenue, giving it away as tax incentives and other benefits to high-rise developers in the inner city, but what programs are out there to help build quality infill housing throughout the city that would be attractive to the typical suburb-dweller? What quality of life issues need to be addressed?

    The City has spent more than a decade developing plans for downtown and the high-traffic corridors radiating from it, but the one and only effort related to neighborhoods (the R4C-R2A study) has languished with little attention by City administration for nearly four years with no action. Other issues like neighborhood flooding were also ignored until several extreme weather events made them impossible to ignore. Public safety has been underfunded and parks like Huron Hills golf course and Fuller Park have been targeted for development.

    It’s time the City started looking at ways to strengthen our neighborhoods, making them more desirable places to live instead of working so hard to encourage expensive high rises that serve only the young, or to make life easier for countywide commuters (and beyond) to live outside the city.

    P.S. – Regardless of its sarcasm, I’m glad John Floyd mentioned the vanishing view in comment (2) above. That’s something that hadn’t occurred to me until I read his comment. I don’t think there’s anything we can do about it, but being aware will at least afford us the opportunity to take in these views before they disappear forever (or until they show up on a historical glass street display someday). Might make for an interesting time-lapse photography project, at least.

  7. December 21, 2012 at 2:07 pm | permalink

    Tom always says it best.

  8. By bear
    January 5, 2013 at 4:59 am | permalink

    I stand corrected. I’m usually more on top of things than that, but I was dead wrong on that one. Wishful thinking maybe.

    No intention of being snarky, it just gets to me sometimes when people expect things to always remain the same. Life doesn’t work that way. I get sad to think that most of the homes I grew up in no longer exist, but that is the way of things.

    I love this forum and the people who contribute to it. Haven’t been on here in awhile. I missed it.

    and that’s mister…

    p.s. Isn’t the first time I’ve been wrong, def won’t be the last. :)

  9. By bear
    January 5, 2013 at 5:05 am | permalink

    I feel for the folks just east of the building being built on washington and first. They probably had awesome views of sunsets and trees looking west that will be replaced with brick and windows soon.

    Yes, Tom said it most succinctly. Much of this city is being ignored and perhaps too much in the way of downtown high rises.

    I love this town very much and some of the changes are not so welcome.