Stories indexed with the term ‘historic distric study committee’

S. Fifth Ave: Historic District, Development

On May 17, 2010 the Ann Arbor city council gave final approval to the city’s FY 2011 budget.

Also that same evening, at a different public meeting away from the glitz and glamour of budget deliberations, an historic district study committee – appointed by the council in August 2009 – adopted its final report. The report recommends creation of an historic district along South Fifth and Fourth avenues, from William Street down to Packard Avenue, including the south side of Packard.


The colored overlays indicate existing Ann Arbor historic districts. The question mark indicates the general vicinity of the proposed new historic district. (Image links to .kmz file from the city's data catalog, which will open in GoogleEarth, displaying all the current historic districts in the city.)

The council would still need to approve the creation of the district. The issue is currently scheduled to come before the council for a first reading on June 21, followed by a second reading on July 5. A moratorium on all construction work in the area of the study will expire on Aug. 6.

If the historic district is approved, then the Heritage Row project – a planned unit development (PUD) proposed along the east side of Fifth Avenue south of William Street – would need to win approval not just from the city council, but also from the city’s historic district commission (HDC).

Heritage Row is due to come before the city council for its second reading on June 7. It received its first reading approval from the city council on May 3 – with no discussion, but with one dissenting vote from Mike Anglin (Ward 5).

This article takes a look at the recommendation of the historic district study committee, primarily through the lens of the public hearing held on May 5 in city council chambers. The conclusion of the hearing found Scott Munzel and Alex de Parry kidding back and forth with Beverly Strassmann – over their respective remarks at the public hearing. Munzel and de Parry are legal counsel and developer for the Heritage Row project, respectively, while Strassmann is president of the Germantown Neighborhood Association.

In his public hearing remarks, Munzel had – somewhat unexpectedly – presented a case that the area recommended as an historic district should, if anything, be larger than the study committee is recommending. The issue of the possible district’s size was already controversial at the point when the committee was appointed, and continues to be a bit of a chaffing point among residents. [Full Story]

Commissioners Weigh In On Historic District

Ann Arbor Planning Commission (April 6, 2010): The bulk of Tuesday’s planning commission meeting centered on a process in which planning commissioners have no official role: the possible establishment of a Fourth and Fifth Avenue historic district.

Kristine Kidorf, Patrick McCauley

Kristine Kidorf and Patrick McCauley answer questions at the April 6, 2010 planning commission meeting. McCauley is chair of the Fourth and Fifth Avenues historic district study committee. Kidorf is a consultant assisting with the committee's work.

A study committee, appointed by city council last year, was charged with evaluating whether or not the residential area along Fourth and Fifth, south of William and north of Packard, meets criteria for historic district designation. The committee finished a preliminary report in February, and is getting feedback before making a final report to the city council in May.

Planning commissioners first discussed the historic district report – and their possible response to it – at a March 9, 2010 working session. At that meeting, commissioner Diane Giannola, who also serves on the city’s historic district commission, raised concerns over the completeness of the report.

At Tuesday’s meeting, several commissioners pressed for clarification about the report. On hand to answer questions were Patrick McCauley, the committee’s chair and a member of the historic district commission, and Kristine Kidorf, a consultant hired by the city to assist the process. [Full Story]

Fifth Ave. Project to Meet Historic Standards

Monday evening on the third floor of the downtown Ann Arbor District Library, developer Alex de Parry gave residents and neighbors an update on a project he’s been proposing in one form or another since early 2008.

Alex De Parry poining

Alex de Parry describes how the rear of the existing seven homes would in some cases be modified consistent with their period of historical significance. (Photo by the writer.)

The housing development would be located on the east side of Fifth Avenue, just south of William Street.

Previously known as “City Place,” the proposal has been newly baptized as “Heritage Row.” The new nomenclature reflects in part the expressed intent of de Parry’s development team to meet the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for historic preservation for a row of seven old houses. Behind the row of houses, three new buildings would be constructed. Underground parking would be constructed under the three new buildings.

Previous versions of the project would have either demolished the seven houses or preserved them only in part. Now, the plan is to rehabilitate those houses to historic district standards. [Full Story]

Council Gets Update on Stadium Bridges

Jim Kosteva and Sue McCormick at Ann Arbor City Council Meeting

Jim Kosteva, UM director of community relations, and Sue McCormick, director of public services for the city of Ann Arbor. Council agendas like the one Kosteva is holding are always printed that color – i.e., there was no pandering to the university reflected in the use of maize-colored paper. (Photo by the writer.)

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (Aug. 17, 2009): When Jim Kosteva appears at an Ann Arbor city council meeting, it usually means that there’s a city-university issue before the body – Kosteva is the university’s director of community relations.

Was it the report from city staff on the status of the East Stadium Boulevard Bridge replacement that had brought Kosteva to council’s chambers? There’ll be easements required from the university to complete that $22 million project.

But no, Kosteva was not there to hand over a giant fake check symbolizing a university contribution to reconstruction of the bridges.

However, he was there to affirm the university’s support for a different project – called FITS. University support will come to the tune of $327,733 out of a total project budget of $541,717 – for the site investigation, project definition and development of conceptual plans for the Fuller Intermodal Transportation Station (FITS). The station will be nestled between Fuller Road and East Medical Center Drive, just east of Fuller & Maiden Lane, near the university’s massive medical campus.

In other business, the city council put a charter amendment on the November ballot that would relax current charter requirements regarding publication of ordinances passed by the council. The Chronicle’s coverage of that charter amendment takes the form of a column published earlier this week.

The council also revisited a resolution it had passed at its previous meeting to establish a historic district study committee, along with a moratorium on demolition within the district. That moratorium was expanded Monday night to include all “work.”

And finally, as had been suggested at the council’s Aug. 16 Sunday caucus, councilmembers indicated that they’d be considering rules changes at their Sept. 8 meeting. In connection with that discussion, Mike Anglin (Ward 5) indicated he’d be calling for the city to make available all city council emails dating back to the year 2000. [Full Story]