Plans for University Village, a proposed near-campus high-rise marketed toward students, were delayed last night because of concerns from city officials and residents about the building’s size.
The Ann Arbor Planning Commission – a board that reviews planned developments in the city – voted at its meeting to table the proposal submitted by the apartment complex’s developers until its concerns are addressed.
The plans will now go back to city staffers, who will work with the developer to revise the proposal for the complex, to be built on the corner of South Forest and South University Avenues.
As proposed, University Village would be comprised of two L-shaped towers, one standing 15 stories high and the other standing 22 stories high. The complex would house about 1,400 residents in about 400 units about would include about 500 parking spaces.
More than a dozen Ann Arbor residents who live near the building’s proposed site spoke against the project during the meeting.
They voiced concerns about the height and the scale of the complex, the added congestion and traffic it would bring and whether there is sufficient demand for luxury student housing to fill the complex.
Many speakers said they feared the towers’ height would dwarf the surrounding neighborhoods.
“I would urge you to throw it out the door,” said Bart Fisher, an Ann Arbor resident and landlord. “It’s absurd.”
Dan Ketelaar of Omena Real Estate and Investment, L.L.C., one of the project’s developers, declined to comment on the concerns raised at the meeting.
Ketelaar, the only person to speak in support of the project, told the commission he understood the decision to table the proposal and said more of the project’s representatives would attend future discussions.
Kathy Sample, a co-chair of the North Burns Park Association, said the development would add too much traffic to the block and does not add enough parking to the area to accommodate the add residents.
“Not to mention the pizza delivery,” said added.
Ann Arbor landlord William Copi said he feared the complex would weaken the market for surrounding student rental.
“The University is not adding 1,400 people to enrollment just so these people can fill up University Village,” Copi said. “It will come from rental properties that constitute the neighborhoods stretching down State and Hill and other streets. When these houses become marginalized as rental properties in a down housing market you may end up with vacancies in droves.”
Burns Park resident Andrea VanHouweling also questioned whether the amenities University Village advertises were necessary.
“I think we need affordable housing for students, not luxury housing,” she said.
Planning Commission Chair Evan Pratt said that while Commission members often question a developer’s intent or whether the market can support a proposed project, it isn’t within the commission’s role to make judgments on these matters.
“Our role here is to determine if the proposal meets the ordinance,” he said.
The project also came under fire during a public meeting earlier this month when residents aired many of the same grievances.
The complex, which developers hope will be completed by 2010, would be constructed in two phases over several years. The project is advertised as upscale student housing, offering amenities like retail space on the first floor, a washer and dryer in every unit and staff on every floor – similar to resident advisors in residence halls.