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Glen Ann grows to 10 Stories

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Glen Ann project may add five stories

BY PAULA GARDNER

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The developer of a mixed-use project - near Huron Street and new University of Michigan research buildings - may stretch its project from five to 10 stories to triple the number of apartments.

Joseph Freed Co.'s plans to increase the approved building height for Glen Ann Place moves the city's escalating height and residential density debate from downtown to the edge of U-M central campus. Glen Ann Place - a retail, office and apartment building along Glen Avenue between Ann and Catheri

ne streets in Ann Arbor - was approved in 2001. But a property dispute stalled construction and gave Freed time to acquire adjacent land.

The Chicago-based developer now has conceptual plans for a 10-story building, increasing the number of apartments and ground-level retail space, said Ed Connell, vice president of development for Freed. "There is a high demographic for residential and a great location, so you want to maximize that," said Connell. "Height is definitely a help in solving that problem."

The property is close to U-M's medical campus and near the university's eight-story, $220 million Biomedical Science Research Building. Freed is exploring changes that would:

Increase the building height to 10 stories, including six stories of residential. That would increase housing from about 30 units to about 90.

Expand the property by about 9,000 square feet to include two adjoining parcels that include a take-out restaurant on Ann Street and the Angelo's Restaurant parking lot on Glen.

Increase on-site parking to 94 spaces from 33, with a redesign that eliminates car elevator access to underground spaces.

Proposed changes also call for increased commercial space on the ground floor, boosting it from 13,000 square feet to about 18,000. Parking would be added above the retail level.

Plans have not changed for the 28,000 square feet of office space on the two floors between the retail and residential levels, Connell said, though the softening office market could prompt a revision.

A market study for the site is under way, Connell said, and Freed is seeking Planning Commission input on several height options - ranging from adding one floor to the full five stories - before submitting an official request.

"There's more dense and taller developments adjacent to us," Connell said. "From a context point of view, this fits into ... the neighborhood."

Connell said city officials told Freed in 2001 that more housing would be appropriate on the site.

Now that the company has added land to the package and extended the footprint the length of Glen, Connell said, the increase in units is possible.

"We did take to heart what they've told us," he said, regarding adding housing units.

The target market for the apartments would be graduate students and professionals, Connell added, rather than undergraduate student housing.

Depending on city approvals, construction could start in spring 2005.

Meanwhile, Freed continues to search for options for two historic houses on the property. The company needs to move them before it can build, according to the Historic District Commission.

Vacant land nearby is non-existent, and Connell said suitable sites for the homes in other areas haven't surfaced.

Paula Gardner covers real estate for Business Review.

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