LSA senior Stew Krane said noises and vibrations from the construction site next door have turned the place where he sleeps into a “coin-operated motel bed.” That, he said, makes sleeping a challenge.

Brian Merlos
Construction workers build the Zaragon Place on 619 E. University Avenue yesterday. Construction starts every week day at 7 a.m. and lasts until 3:30 p.m., and many students say they have trouble sleeping or studying because of the sounds. (ROB MIGRIN/Dai

One of many disgruntled students in his neighborhood, Krane said his house shakes and rattles because of the jackhammers used for nearby construction. He said the sounds from the construction are so loud that hearing his TV is a tall task.

Krane lives on Willard Street between East University Avenue and Church Street, directly behind the construction site of Zaragon Place, a 10-story apartment complex that will replace the recently demolished Anberay Apartments. The project has peeved some students and businesses who claim the disruptions have been too noisy.

Tim Stout, an assistant superintendent at the site, said construction crews only work between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday and sometimes an occasional Saturday. He said the crews work Saturdays if they appear to be drifting away from their target completion date of spring 2009.

According to Ann Arbor city code, construction work is permitted between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Stout said O’Neal Construction – an Ann Arbor-based company working on numerous University projects including the softball field renovations – is the contractor for Zaragon Place and has already discussed the impact of the work with neighboring businesses and residents.

“I do feel pretty positive, and I hope that’s mutual,” Stout said.

But Krane said the construction has been too disruptive, saying the noise starts “way before” he and his housemates prefer to wake up. He said he thinks his rent should have been reduced due to the construction.

“The house is such a great location for campus, and then this happened,” Krane said.

Stout said the company has already made concessions to residents and businesses in the area, citing a decision to accommodate nearby businesses by keeping two lanes of traffic open and constructing a protected walkway next to the construction site. In order to maintain two-way traffic on the street, the city eliminated parking on both sides of the street.

Even with the accommodation, though, local business owners say the project has temporarily hurt business.

Joey Zeer, owner of In-N-Out Pizza, a convenience store located next to the site, said he makes some sales to hungry and thirsty construction workers, but that on the whole, he has had fewer customers.

Because the street is partially blocked off, he said, the store gets less foot traffic.

Residential College sophomore Ali Ploechl, an East Quadrangle resident, said students have noticed that the sidewalk in front of Zaragon Place has moved, leading many of them to bypass the local eateries.

“Getting to Za’s now involves some maneuvering around the construction,” Ploechl said.

Aaron Blumhardt, manager of neighboring restaurant Red Hot Lovers, said he still receives plenty of student foot traffic, but that summer sales were a different story. Then, Blumhardt said, noise from jackhammers made it difficult for customers to talk while they ate.

He also said that because there are less parking meters available now, fewer city residents frequent the restaurant because they can’t park near it.

Despite the troubles, Blumhardt said he’s optimistic that the project – slated to yield 66 apartments with 248 bedrooms, and 40 underground parking spaces – will bring new business once it’s completed.

“It’s going to be primarily student housing,” Blumhardt said. “That’s new clientele at least every four years.”

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