Bank of Ann Arbor Project Moves Ahead

An expansion of the Bank of Ann Arbor headquarters in downtown Ann Arbor took another step, as Ann Arbor planning commissioners recommended the project for approval at their May 20, 2014 meeting. It will next be considered by the city council.

Commissioners recommended approval of a site plan that involves reorienting the main entrance – moving it from the center of its South Fifth Avenue side to the southeast corner of South Fifth and East Washington. A 9,179-square-foot third-floor addition would be constructed over the rear of the building’s east side. In total, the building would be 32,651 square feet after construction. The project is estimated to cost $4.2 million. [.pdf of staff memo]

The site is zoned D1, which allows for the highest level of density in the downtown area.

D1 zoning requires a special exception use for drive-thrus, which the planning commission granted to Bank of Ann Arbor on May 20 in a separate vote. Because the project is going through a site plan approval process, the requirement for a special exception use was triggered. Special exception uses do not require additional council approval. The bank has an existing drive-thru teller window on its north side. No changes are planned to that configuration, however.

Commissioners amended the special exception use to limit the drive-thru to a financial institution. That amendment, put forward by Sabra Briere, was approved on a 6-2 vote, over dissent from Wendy Woods and Eleanore Adenekan. Briere also proposed an amendment that would restrict the hours that the drive-thru could be open. The concern was that vehicles pulling out from the drive-thru onto Fifth Avenue could cause a threat to pedestrians and bicyclists in the evening. But after discussion – including some comments from Hans Maier, a senior executive for the bank – Briere withdrew that amendment.

The special exception use, as amended, received unanimous approval.

Modifications to drive-thru regulations are in the works, but not yet enacted. The planning commission approved new drive-thru regulations earlier this year. Amendments to Ann Arbor’s zoning ordinance related to drive-thrus received initial approval at the council’s May 5, 2014 meeting, and will be on the council’s June 2 agenda for final approval.

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