ANN ARBOR, MI — Plans are underway for a large-scale workforce housing development on Ann Arbor’s west side.
Indianapolis-based developer The Annex Group this week unveiled preliminary plans for 252 apartments on a 4.38-acre site at 2050 Commerce Drive, across from Hillcrest Apartments between Maple Road and Stadium Boulevard.
Ann Arbor officials have expressed interest in seeing denser housing for the workforce in the city, with the Maple and Stadium area now at the center, and what the developer is proposing would have a density of 57 .5 housing units per acre.
Four years ago, the city council approved a Chicago developer’s plan to build a four-story apartment building with 267 market-priced apartments on the site, but the plan never materialized.
Coming out of the pandemic, The Annex Group is taking over the project and proposing some revisions that will require approval from the city’s planning commission.
The new concept is a development seeking tax credit funding through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority for 252 affordable housing units.
It is envisioned as workforce housing for people with incomes ranging from around $50,000 to around $70,000, said Tyler Knox, director of development for The Annex Group.
The project’s design team – including lead architect Renato Gilberti of BKV Group in Chicago and local architect Brad Moore, as well as civil engineer Scott Betzoldt – previewed some of the features in a meeting of citizen participation on Zoom on Wednesday evening August 10. .
It is still envisioned as a large building with four stories above ground wrapping around a central courtyard with an east wing extending from the main square, but the layout has been rearranged slightly and the parking lot moved, while the size units change.
Plans show 149 one-bedroom units, 72 two-bedroom units and 31 three-bedroom units – making 386 bedrooms in total, compared to 335 in the previously approved version which was a mix of studios and one and two-bedroom apartments bedrooms.
Building amenities include a club room, fitness room, lobby, bike storage, courtyard pool, and rooftop lounge.
In addition to changes to the building’s footprint, the new design creates additional breaks in the facade, Gilberti said, explaining that several types of materials will be used, including white, gray and rusty orange panel cladding and some panels in mahogany and cypress, with an orange-brown brick base.
The plan is to dedicate 95% of apartments to people with incomes up to 60% of the region’s median income, 2.5% up to 80% AMI and 2.5% up to 50% AMI, said Moore.
The AMI this year is $82,500 for a single person, $94,300 for a two-person household, $106,100 for a three-person household and $117,800 for a four-person household.
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City code currently requires 252 parking spaces for the development and 411 are proposed, including 390 in a garage and 21 surface parking spaces.
The development site is the former location of the headquarters of Select Ride, a taxi and limousine service that moved several years ago. The office building on the site is vacant and is to be demolished.
No rezoning is proposed, so the project does not require City Council approval at this stage. The commercial zoning of the property allows residential and commercial use.
Residents of nearby Eagle Ridge condos were generally supportive of the project at Wednesday’s meeting, but had questions and concerns about the loss of trees that provide a buffer zone to the site and fencing thereon. Some of the trees are a century old and it is sad to lose them, said Cathy Wilkinson, while expressing her support for affordable housing.
There will always be a landscaped buffer zone alongside the site and the developer is committed to working with neighbors on options.
The design team intends to refine and submit the plans to the city for review later this month.
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