The Michigan Student Assembly held an informal discussion last night about a proposed resolution condemning 601 Forest, the student high-rise being planned at the corner of South University and South Forest Avenues.
Without a sufficient number of representatives present, according to MSA regulations — presumably due to the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah — the scheduled vote on the resolution could not be held. Since the Ann Arbor City Council is scheduled to vote for the project’s final approval Monday, MSA will not vote on the resolution.
If approved, the 25-story high-rise would be the second tallest building in Ann Arbor. The building would house 1,142 people paying rent of about $1,000 per month.
The project has drawn criticism, especially from nearby business owners and residents who say the complex is not an appropriate development for the neighborhood. This prompted MSA Vice President Arvind Sohoni and Student General Counsel Michael Benson to author a resolution against it.
Ann Arbor City Councilwoman Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1), who attended last night’s meeting, encouraged students to take a more active role in the evolution of the campus neighborhood.
“It seems sad to me that maybe these developers haven’t figured out that it’s really important to have students involved in the project,” Briere said. “This is your town too.”
Sohoni said he regretted not getting involved sooner.
“Students didn’t really get a chance to voice an opinion on this at all,” he said.
The assembly discussed a number of issues related to the construction of 601 Forest, including the potential for a shortage of parking, increased traffic on the already congested South University Avenue and whether Ann Arbor and the University would benefit from the new first-floor retail opportunities.
MSA Rep. Jason Raymond suggested that while the rental rate for 601 Forest is significantly higher than average for the area, the quality of the units offered could potentially increase competition and force other area landlords to improve the standards of their housing.
“The competition factor is really going to take hold,” he said.
— Benjamin S. Chase contributed to this report.