By Lydia Koehn, For the Daily
Published November 1, 2012
Those concerned about the ever-growing Ann Arbor skyline may be alarmed to see another high-rise enter the picture.
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About 20 interested residents, project developers and members of Ann Arbor’s Design Review Board met Thursday at Pizza House on Church Street to discuss a proposed residential structure slated to be built above the restaurant. Brad Moore, owner of J Bradley Moore & Associates Architects, Inc. that is designing the building, presented the specifics of the proposed development.
The new project proposal involves demolition of an existing wood-frame, 2-story residential structure that served as the site of the original Pizza House, located south of the current restaurant, and construction of an 80-unit, high-rise residential complex. The proposed building would be constructed by The Opus Group, a Minnesota-based real estate development firm, in collaboration with the Atwell Group, a construction management company in Southfield.
According to Moore, the new apartment complex will be marketed primarily to University students. The 14 to 15-story structure will be composed primarily of 2 and 3-bedroom units, although there will also be 1 and 4-becroom units. About 40 off-site parking permits will be provided to residents through the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.
Moore said he hopes that the building’s plan will be shown before Ann Arbor City Council in February of next year, adding that if the Council approves the project, construction could begin as early as next summer.
Mark Bell, a real estate manager for The Opus Group’s Chicago office, predicted that the construction will take about 12 to 14 months.
Following his presentation, Moore received several comments from residents concerned about the aesthetics of the proposed structure. Moore assured attendees that both practicality and curb-appeal have been considered in the building’s design.
He noted that the building will feature a structural combination of steel beams and pre-fabricated concrete slabs, along with a glass curtain corner wall and a brick-faced, first-floor front. The design is intended to match the appearance of the Pizza House restaurant and is crowned by a solar-shaded rooftop plaza with greenery.
The majority of concerns raised had to do with the apparent lack of available parking for future tenants and Pizza House delivery vehicles.
Pizza House owner Dennis Tice reassured attendees that delivery vehicles exiting the property will not pose a problem, as he is currently negotiating other area parking options.
“There will be the same or less traffic,” Tice said.
According to Moore, the discrepancy between the required 40 to 42 parking spaces and the proposed 80 apartment units is comparable to neighboring complexes.
“That is the same parking ratio as the competition in the area … same as Zaragon, as Landmark,” Moore said.
He added that the developers do not project that all of the tenants will have a car.
“The DDA has already told us they have the spots,” said Moore. “They just haven’t told us where the spots are yet.”
Moore also mentioned ZipCar — a car-sharing service — could serve as a viable transportation option for those who do not own cars.
For Education senior Rosie Mousigian and her roommates, having a car handy is essential for grocery shopping and other errands.
“For me, where I’m at, I do have a parking spot,” Mousigian said. “So not having a parking spot included … it would not be ideal.”