Meeting Watch: Ann Arbor Planning Commission (4 Sept 2008)

City Place housing project rejected for a third time

The City Place project, proposed along South Fifth Avenue just south of William Street, was brought tonight for a third time before the Ann Arbor Planning Commission by developer Alex de Parry. Although commissioners Joan Lowenstein and Craig Borum found enough about the revised proposal to give it their support, even they did so with no great enthusiasm – Lowenstein citing her sadness that the seven houses would be demolished, and Borum lamenting the “faux historical” architecture of the proposed project as harmful to the city.

With only two votes of support, the project was rejected. In the city staff summary of the project’s history, it was noted that City Place was first brought to the commission in January 2008 and rejected. In May 2008, a project that city staff characterized as “nearly identical” was brought before the commission and also rejected. De Parry withdrew the project on both of those occasions before they went before city council for a final decision.

The revised project brought forward tonight as a PUD reflected the following modifications compared to previous proposals: reduction of the number of units from 98 to 90; reduction in the number of bedrooms from 197 to 164, reduction in the building’s length from 352 feet to 327 feet, and an overall square footage reduction of 9 percent.

Standing with his project team outside the Larcom Building after the vote, de Parry said he hadn’t reached a decision about whether to let the project go forward to city council or to withdraw it. During his presentation to the commission, de Parry indicated that he was prepared to bring a project forward that met zoning requirements and did not require demonstration of the public benefit required by PUD proposals. Commissioner Ethel Potts, in her remarks, said she did not appreciate being put in that position.