Home to some of the University’s most recognizable buildings and an array of popular student hangouts, the South University and Tappan neighborhoods illustrates much of the influence of students on Ann Arbor’s landscape.
Adjacent to Central Campus, the South University area includes University Towers, and several other high rise apartment buildings. Bisected by Washtenaw Avenue, the neighborhood’s borders are typically considered Geddes Avenue, Church Street and South University Avenue.
The neighborhood is also near the C.C. Little bus stop, the Central Campus Recreation Building and the Hill area. These attributes make the neighborhood a frequent choice for students who wish to live close to Central Campus.
The core street of this neighborhood is South University Avenue. On any given day, students flock to South University from surrounding neighborhoods to dine at food establishments like The Brown Jug and Good Time Charley’s, to shop for University apparel or grab coffee at Espresso Royale between classes.
At night, bars along South University Avenue fill with customers who often opt to bar hop from one place to the other. A night could begin at the Blue Leprechaun, continue at Cantina and end up at Rick’s American Cafe.
As a result of the street’s location, it is not only a cemented student destination, but also a significant economic engine for the city.
Perry Porikos, who graduated from the University in the early 1980s and owns The Blue Leprechaun, The Brown Jug and Study Hall Lounge on South University Avenue, as well as The Back Room on Church Street, said the area has consistently been a focal point of the city.
“It’s hard to duplicate something that South U. has,” he said. “It’s already established. It’s a walking distance from the majority of the student body. And you cannot duplicate that. People have tried but it doesn’t work.”
While the nightlife is part of the South University neighborhood’s popularity, it can be an inconvenience to those living close to the area. LSA junior Jona Hoxhallari, who lives in University Towers, said the weekends can sometimes be a problem.
“Being so close to the bars, it’s really loud on the weekends if I am trying to study or sleep or anything,” she said.
Hoxhallari said she chose to live there due to the very central location, which she said is excellent because it is close to restaurants and her friends, and is less than five minutes away from her classes.
However, she also noted that the rent is excessive and is a main reason why she would move away from the area.
In 2012, the average rents http://www.michigandaily.com/article/michigan-dailys-ann-arbor-housing-g….
>prices in the area ran about $700 per month.
Porikos identified three main profit sources for both the city and for the South University’s neighborhood specifically — the University, the University of Michigan Hospital and Michigan football. He said he noticed a decline in the amount of business in the area during the past two years due to the recent performance of the Michigan football team.
“Business started going up when Jim Harbaugh came in,” he said. “I’ve seen right away that the culture, the attitude, the atmosphere already changed. It’s a positive energy that I felt right away as soon as I heard the announcement.”
Porikos noted that his overall clientele is about 60 percent students, while the rest are University faculty and regular customers. He said the daily clientele varies depending on the time of day, with lunches dominated by University faculty and more regular customers.
“When you work with, in majority, the student body, you never have the regular restaurant lunch time which is going to be 11 to 2. You might have people coming in from 3 to 5 as a group. That fluctuates a lot and that hurts you a little bit with the labor because you never know,” he said.
He added that the strongest period of the year is football season and that the weakest is usually July to the end of August.
The heavy student presence of these areas is another reason why Porikos went into business on South University Avenue, as he wanted to be working with young people, which makes him feel young. He noted however that there are difficulties that come with this environment.
“Some of them you get really close (with). You start with them as a freshman. You become a friend or a father figure, whatever you want to call it, and then in four years they are gone. And then I have to start again. So it’s a challenge, too.”
South University Avenue is also the connecting corridor between the South University and Tappan neighborhoods.
In many ways, the Tappan neighborhood exemplifies the often unclear lines that separate the University and the city.
East Quad Residence Hall is across from Rick’s American Café; the Ross School of Business and the Law School are a few steps away from Dominick’s; and the School of Social Work is right on South University Avenue. The area also includes the Ford School of Public Policy and main city thoroughfares such as State Street and Packard Street.
Other important University organizations can also be found throughout the Tappan neighborhood, including University of Michigan Hillel on Hill Street and a variety fraternities and sororities.
LSA junior Olivia King, who lives in the Tappan neighborhood, said the location is convenient due to its close proximity to campus buildings like the Law School and the Business School, as well as the Intramural Sports Building. One of the benefits she finds is the mix between student residents and permanent residencies.
“I like the location a lot because it feels safer because it is so close to campus,” she said. “I am always sure that (DPSS) will be just a block of my house. I think that was an attraction for me and my parents.”
King noted that sometimes the area gets a bit noisy, but beyond this small issue she hasn’t experienced many problems living in the neighborhood.
The large size of the Tappan neighborhood means that benefits and drawbacks of the location vary depending on the exact location.
LSA junior Emily Carl who lives in the Tappan neighborhood near Hill Street, also noted the location was a big plus. She said her house is about six minutes from her classes and has easy access to State Street, South University Avenue and Main Street.
“We are definitely paying for location,” Carl said. “The rooms are decent-sized and we have a huge kitchen and living room, but it is more expensive when I hear other people talking about their rent, who live a little bit farther off campus.”
In 2012, rent prices in the area averaged $700.
Tappan has also seen a significant amount of the high-rise apartment building construction over the past five years.
The Landmark and Zaragon Place high rise buildings are more luxurious and pricier than other apartments and houses in the area, and the self-described “luxury-student housing” ArborBLU apartments are currently under construction above Pizza House on Church Street.
With the heavy student presence, several traditional meeting spots and a changing skyline, the neighborhoods are likely to remain a center of student life off campus.