Wednesday, February 6, 2013

More high-rises on the horizon

An artists interpretation of the Varsity

Ann Arbor is continuing build upward. The 13-story Varsity on Huron and Washington and the eight-story Ann Arbor City Apartments on First and Washington are well underway. The seven-story 618 S Main is expected to break ground this spring at the site of the old Fox Tent and Awning Co. building. There are also two more potential high-rises in the pipes. The Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend plans for a 14-story apartment at 624 Church St (next to Pizza House) at their Jan. 29th meeting. Perhaps the most contentious proposed development is another 14-story apartment building located at 413 E. Huron. This project failed to get support from the Planning Commission at its meeting last night. At the risk of vast oversimplification, opposition to the project is centered around the fact that it is quite large and adjacent to the Old 4th Ward Historic District.

Aside from Ann Arbor City Apartments and 618 S. Main, which target young professionals, all of the new high-rises that have been built in the last few years have targeted students. I wonder what the effect of all these new downtown units will be on the rental market here. At what point will the market for luxury student housing become saturated? Will an influx of students to downtown free up some near-downtown houses for young professionals and families? As we mentioned earlier, housing in Ann Arbor feels increasingly out of reach for young professionals folks starting families. Gentle readers, please share your two cents.


  1. The phrase "young professionals" bugs me for reasons I can't really articulate. Maybe because it smacks of bourgeois and people whose only goal is to acquire a diverse portfolio & hefty mortgage. So putting aside that phrase...yes, I think that it is unaffordable for most folks. My BF & I make good money (on paper...not so much after taxes/deductions) and aren't having kids and we could not afford most lofts/condos downtown. The ones by Seva are over $500,000. !!!!! Dude, I'm a teacher! Personally, I wouldn't mind having some more plumbers, electricians, "makers", artists, writers, etc in downtown but I realize that Ann Arbor itself is increasingly becoming comprised of well-paid U of M employees and wealthy students from the east coast so I won't hold my breath....

  2. Yeah. The term does carry some undertones. I guess I just mean young couples or individuals wanting to make roots in the community who have reasonable jobs.