After being postponed by Ann Arbor planning commissioners in May, a site plan for new condominiums on West Liberty Street has received a unanimous recommendation of approval from commissioners. The action took place at their July 1, 2014 meeting.
The proposal from developer Alex de Parry is to demolish an existing car wash at 318 W. Liberty and build an 11,910-square-foot structure with seven residential condominiums – five two-bedroom and two three-bedroom units. Each condo would have its own two-car tandem garage for a total of 14 parking spaces, although no parking is required.
The lot, on the north side of Liberty, is east of the historic Peter Brehme house at 326 W. Liberty and located in the Old West Side historic district. The historic district commission issued a certificate of appropriateness for the project on March 13, 2014. It’s located in Ward 5 and is zoned D2 (downtown interface).
The project would require two footing drain disconnects or the equivalent mitigation, according to a planning staff report. [.pdf of staff report]
In May, De Parry was told that the existing six-inch water main in West Liberty Street would need to be upsized to a 12-inch water main. The city staff told him that the six-inch main wouldn’t have the capacity to handle the additional development, in particular the building’s fire-suppression system. That was the reason for postponement at the planning commission’s May 20, 2014 meeting.
At that time, De Parry told commissioners that the development team had just been informed about the issue, and they were analyzing the budget impact and alternatives that they might pursue.
The current agreement, recommended by commissioners on July 1, is for De Parry to pay for installation of an eight-inch water main, rather than the 12-inch water main.
During the public hearing on July 1, four people spoke – three of them with concerns about the project. Those concerns dealt with the fact that a small portion of the site’s corner lies within the flood plain, as well as a general objection to high-end development in the downtown core. One woman also criticized the aesthetics and height of the project. The project’s architect, Brad Moore, responded to concerns about the flood plain by saying that none of the building is within the flood plain. The garages are out of the flood plain, and the living space is located above the garages, he noted.
The project will now be forwarded to the city council for consideration.
This brief was filed from the second-floor council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow.