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City of Ann Arbor approves tallest high-rise in decades

Development planned behind Michigan Theater

(Credit: ESG Architecture & Design and J. Bradley Moore & Associates)

ANN ARBOR – A 19-story high-rise has been approved for development in downtown Ann Arbor.

Monday night, City Council voted 9-2 to approve construction at 616 E. Washington. The building will be the city’s tallest building since the 1960s, but still doesn’t come close to Tower Plaza, which stands at 26-stories.

By agreeing to include affordable housing in the development, developer Howard Frehsee of Cerca Trova LLC in Bloomfield Hills was able to surpass the city’s 180-foot height limit on buildings. He will be partnering with Chicago-based developer CA Ventures on the project.

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The plans include:

  • 51 studios
  • 90 one-bedroom apartments
  • 39 two-bedroom apartments
  • 14 three-bedroom apartments
  • 25 four-bedroom apartments
  • 21 five-bedroom apartments
  • 117 parking spaces

Commercial space on the ground level will span 5,438 square feet.

According to the developer, the apartments will be geared toward University of Michigan students and professionals.

Residents who attended the public hearing on Monday both supported and opposed the building. Those for it say affordable housing is crucial to bring to the downtown area while those against fear its height could ruin the city’s landscape. Some also criticized its number of parking spaces, saying that more downtown parking is necessary.

Council members Ali Ramlawi (D-Ward 5) and Jeff Hayner (D-Ward 1) voted against the development. For his part, Ramlawi said he fears for the impact the project will have on small businesses.


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