515 N. Fifth Ave. OK’d by Council

A residential building at 515 N. Fifth Ave., between Kingsley and Beakes on the west side of North Fifth, has received approval for its site plan from the Ann Arbor city council. The project is a three-story, 8,404-square-foot building with four two-bedroom units: two condominiums and two apartments. The unanimous vote came at the council’s March 4, 2013 meeting. The project had received a unanimous recommendation for approval from the city planning commission at that body’s Jan. 3, 2013 meeting.

515 N. Fifth, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view showing the location of 515 N. Fifth, outlined in black.

The apartments would be on the second and third floors, while the condos would be on the first floor, with entrances from the north and south sides. Parking would be provided in an attached four-car garage in the front of the structure, though the garage openings are located on the side, near the front of the building. [.pdf of site plan] The site is zoned R4C (multi-family residential district) and the existing house on the site, with three apartments, would be demolished. It was built in 1901. Construction is estimated to cost $925,500.

The owners are requesting a variance from the city’s conflicting land-use buffer ordinance, which requires a 15-foot buffer on the west, north and south sides. The buffer requirement to the west can be met, but the owners want to put in a narrower landscape buffer on the other sides – varying from two to 12 feet on the south, with a 12-foot buffer on the north. There would be a five-foot-high screening fence along the entire perimeter of the site.

The project had been postponed at the planning commission’s Dec. 4, 2012 meeting, as planning staff recommended giving the owners more time to address a range of issues related to utility, landscaping and natural features analysis. At that meeting, Christine Crockett, who’s president of the Old Fourth Ward Association, and Ray Detter of the downtown citizens advisory council spoke in opposition to the project. They had cited a range of objections, including their view that the design did not fit with the neighborhood.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]