Stories indexed with the term ‘retail space’

Public Speaks Out On Apartment Projects

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Jan. 15, 2013): More than 35 people spoke during various public hearings at the most recent planning commission meeting, but most were on hand to protest a student housing development proposed for the northeast corner of Huron and Division.

Chuck Gelman, Scott Reed, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Chuck Gelman and Scott Reed at the Ann Arbor planning commission’s Jan. 15, 2013 meeting. Gelman, founder of the former Gelman Sciences Inc., lives in Sloan Plaza and opposes the adjacent proposed development at 413 E. Huron. In contrast, Reed believes the residential project is “desperately needed.” (Photos by the writer.)

Following a public hearing that included some emotional pleas to halt the project, planning commissioners voted to postpone action on a site plan for 413 E. Huron, a 14-story residential development geared to university students. City planning staff had recommended postponement because input on the project hadn’t yet been received from the Michigan Dept. of Transportation, which must weigh in because of the building’s location along a state trunkline – Huron Street.

The design came under harsh criticism during the Jan. 15 public hearing, with some residents – including several from the adjacent Sloan Plaza – calling it a “behemoth,” a “folly” and a “massive student warehouse.” Several people criticized the developer for not being sufficiently responsive to concerns raised by the city’s design review board or feedback from residents.

Planning staff indicated that the item could be on the commission’s next regular meeting agenda, on Feb. 5. When commissioner Eric Mahler noted that the public hearing would continue, someone from the audience called out, “We’ll be back!”

Another 14-story student apartment building – at 614 Church St., on the Pizza House property – was also on the Jan. 15 agenda, and ultimately received a recommendation of approval from commissioners. That decision came despite objections from representatives of the adjacent Zaragon Place apartments at 619 E. University.

Concerns were raised about how Zaragon residents will be impacted by construction at 624 Church. Zaragon opened a few years ago and is marketed to University of Michigan students. The developers of 624 Church intend to market their apartments to the same demographic. Larry Deitch, an attorney who also serves as a UM regent, was on hand to represent the Zaragon owners. He said they didn’t object to the project itself, but were concerned about safety related to the use of a crane during construction, among other issues.

Planning staff indicated that the issues raised by Deitch and other Zaragon representatives would be handled at the building permit stage. The planning commission was being asked to address planning and zoning requirements, and the project was in conformance with those regulations.

In discussing the project, Mahler pointed out that the city had gone through a “robust” discussion about zoning as part of the A2D2 process, and had decided that this area should be zoned D1. Now that D1 projects are coming forward, “we need to get used to that,” he said.

Commissioners dealt with two other items on the Jan. 15 agenda. They recommended approval of the site plan and rezoning for a retail development at 3600 Plymouth Road, just west of US-23 – called The Shoppes at 3600. The project had previously been postponed by the commission on Nov. 7, 2012.

Another item moving forward is a request for annexation of 2925 Devonshire Road, one of several Ann Arbor Township “islands” within the city. Commissioners also recommended approval to zone the 0.66-acre site as R1A (single-family dwelling district). The item prompted a brief discussion about the need for better communication with Ann Arbor Township officials. [Full Story]

Plymouth Rd. Retail Project Gets Planning OK

A proposed retail development at 3600 Plymouth Road, just west of US-23, is moving ahead following a recommendation of approval at the Jan. 15, 2013 meeting of the Ann Arbor planning commission. The project – called The Shoppes at 3600 – was previously postponed by the commission on Nov. 7, 2012.

On Jan. 15, commissioners recommended that the city council approve the project’s original site plan as well as rezoning for the land – from R5 (motel-hotel district) to C3 (fringe commercial district). The site is located in the same complex as the Holiday Inn North Campus. [.pdf of aerial map showing project's location] Responding to some commissioner concerns voiced at the November 2012 meeting, the developer had provided an … [Full Story]

Changes to Arlington Square OK’d

At its Dec. 6, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor planning commission unanimously recommended approving changes to the supplemental regulations of a planned unit development (PUD) for Arlington Square. The two-story, 51,285-square-foot retail and office complex is located at 3250 Washtenaw Ave. – the southeast corner of Washtenaw Avenue and Huron Parkway. An 8,000-square-foot space in the complex, where Hollywood Video was formerly located, is vacant, and the owner would like to have the option of leasing the space to a restaurant or urgent care facility.

The current PUD zoning, which was approved in 1989, allows for certain C3 (fringe commercial) uses, but due to an increased need for parking that would be created, it does not allow for (1) restaurants with seating, (2) barber/beauty … [Full Story]

Approval Postponed on Arbor Hills Crossing

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (June 7, 2011): The main action item on the planning commission’s agenda was a resolution to approve the site plan for Arbor Hills Crossing, a proposed retail and office complex at Platt and Washtenaw.

A rendering of Arbor Hills Crossing at Platt and Washtenaw

A rendering of one of four buildings planned at Arbor Hills Crossing, located on the southeast corner of Platt and Washtenaw. This view is looking northwest from the center of the site. (Image by ReFORM Studios)

The project involves tearing down several vacant structures and putting up four one- and two-story buildings throughout the 7.45-acre site – a total of 90,700-square-feet of space for retail stores and offices. Three of the buildings would face Washtenaw Avenue, across the street from the retail complex where Whole Foods grocery is located. The site is also directly north of the new location for Summers-Knoll School. Planning commissioners had approved the Summers-Knoll project at their May 17 meeting.

Comments from commissioners about Arbor Hills Crossing ranged from disappointment in the lack of density to concerns about pedestrian safety. Commissioners generally expressed the sense that they were glad to see the site developed.

Citing some outstanding issues, planning staff recommended postponing action on the plan. Several commissioners raised other issues they’d like to see addressed before the site plans come back to the commission for approval. Among those issues: future plans for bike lanes along Washtenaw Avenue, as identified in the city’s non-motorized transportation plan; and possible pedestrian access to a wetland area. The vote to pospone was unanimous.

Later in the meeting, planning manager Wendy Rampson got feedback on a draft memo to Pittsfield Township, providing input from the commission on the township’s draft master plan. In part, the memo states an objection to the township’s description of itself as “providing an Ann Arbor mailing address while placing a much lower tax burden on businesses.” The memo points out that the plan could be improved by emphasizing regional cooperation. [Full Story]

Building Coworking Space Brick By Brick


Michael Kessler queries potential users of coworking space at 118 S. Main about what they'd commit to and at what price. (Special thanks to Bill Merrill, who lent The Chronicle his camera.)

At noon on Tuesday, around 50 people gathered in the space at 118 S. Main St. to evaluate its potential as a place for coworking by independent operators. Coworking includes income-earning activity that ranges from people working solo in physical proximity with other independent workers, to collaboration with some of them on a single project – without belonging to a common business concern.

But it wasn’t just the physical space that people were keen to see (over a free catered lunch). They also wanted to know what Michael Kessler had in mind for the actual space-use agreements. Kessler has an arrangement with Ed Shaffran, who owns the Goodyear Building which houses the potential coworking space.

So what people wanted to know from Kessler on Tuesday was: What do you get, and how much does it cost? And what Kessler wanted to know from attendees was: Would you actually use this space, and how much would you pay? [Full Story]