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Community divided over site plan, council meeting weighs in both sides

When the city of Ann Arbor zoned a particular part of land for D2 use in the northeast corner of the city, they instantly knew it would cause problems for developers down the road. People who supported the decision saw the potential for economic growth if taller buildings were allowed to build in that part of the city, while advocates have balked at this idea, pointing out that the proposed building idea did not blend well with the historic landmarks in the surrounding area.

Contentions between both sides became apparent this month when the Ann Arbor Planning Commission failed to recommend the project to the City Council. In a 5 to 3 vote, the commission needed one more to recommend the construction project that many residents in the community are afraid could change the landscape of the town entirely.

Now, the City Council is slated to make a final ruling on the plan to demolish the two existing single-story commercial buildings and a smaller residential building to make way for a new 14-story apartment building. Per the architect's design, the new building would boast 216 unit complex with commercial space on the ground level.

While many people in the community feel like this could help transform the city for the better, advocates aren't so convinced. At the most recent council meeting, out of the estimated 60 people in attendance, several people made passionate arguments against the building's construction pointing out that it would not only affect the other student-housing complexes in the area, it also would not complement the surrounding historical district.

If the council votes to push forward with the project, construction disputes could follow which could push the project back further as legal intervention takes its course.

Source:, "413 East Huron fails to get approval from Ann Arbor Planning Commission," Brienne Prusak, Feb. 6, 2013

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