Landmark, Zaragon West and other new luxury apartments dotting the Ann Arbor skyline have new competitors on the horizon.
Connecticut-based Greenfield Partners and Minnesota-based The Opus Group are the two latest real estate firms to jump onto Ann Arbor’s luxury-apartment bandwagon.
Both companies sent reports to the Ann Arbor Design Review Board in September for the proposed projects. If approved, a 14-story luxury apartment complex will be built on the northeast corner of East Huron and North Division streets, and another 14-story complex will be constructed on Church Street above Pizza House.
Ann Arbor currently hosts multiple luxury complexes. In the past four years, Sterling 411 Lofts, Zaragon Place, Zaragon West and Landmark all opened near the University’s Central Campus.
The two newly proposed projects would come on the heels of construction of The Varsity, another luxury apartment complex currently being developed on East Washington Street and slated to open next fall.
According to Sarah Tatum — the regional sales and training specialist for Campus Apartments, a student housing management company — The Varsity will feature a two-story gym, sky lounge and golf simulator.
Tatum said the prospect of two additional apartment complexes in the city will benefit students because it will force management companies to provide a better product.
“In terms of it affecting The Varsity, we enjoy the competition and we look forward to setting the bar in the market,” Tatum said. “We hope that students will really embrace The Varsity when they move in.”
Brad Moore — the owner of J Bradley Moore & Associates Architects, Inc., the architect for the Church Street project — wrote in an e-mail interview that while he can’t discuss the full scope of the project, it will include “surprise amenities.”
“I loved living in Tower Plaza when I was a U of M student and I’m glad that that type of living experience is becoming available to more and more students,” Moore wrote. “I think building vertically in the core areas of the city is a more sustainable type of development than urban sprawl.”
Moore added that the process of approving the construction could take anywhere from six to eight months. After the Ann Arbor Design Review Board holds a hearing on Oct. 17, the project will be turned over to the Citizens Participation meeting before being submitted to the Planning Department for site plan approval at the end of November. After public hearings and internal reviews, the proposal will be heard at an Ann Arbor City Council meeting.
Sean Spellman, the vice president and general manager of the Opus Development Corporation, wrote in a statement that the company could not comment on its involvement with their proposed apartment building over Pizza House on Church Street.
“As Opus is working through design, entitlements and feasibility analysis of this potential development, we are unable to provide specific project details at this time,” Spellman wrote.
Mustafa Ali — the owner of CareOne Rental, Inc., a management company in Ann Arbor — said the growth of luxury apartment complexes in the area doesn’t concern him.
“I don’t think that will affect my business at all … because of the price difference,” Ali said. “Their prices are a lot higher.”
Zaragon West is the most expensive of the complexes, with monthly rent ranging from $1,100 to $1,650. Sterling 411 Lofts has the lowest starting rate at $800 per month, but can run as expensive as $1,625 per month.
Landmark, which was previously owned by Campus Acquisitions, was sold in September to American Campus Communities, Inc. along with properties near 14 other universities. According to the company release, the management company will invest $13.7 million into improving the properties.
LSA junior Charlie Young worked for Landmark last year and said new apartment complexes will benefit students by driving down costs for other types of housing.
“It’s allowing those people who can afford the higher-priced luxury apartments to get closer to campus,” Young said. “For the rest of us, who have to pay outrageous prices for crappy houses, it’s going to bring that price down a bit.”
Nursing sophomore Sara Murrin said though she isn’t interested in living in a luxury apartment, she believes there are plenty of students at the University who would.
“People here have a lot of money,” Murrin said. “But I wouldn’t do it at all.”
Lydia Koehn contributed to this story