development

More on "University Village" project

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My post expressing skepticism at the 26-story, 1,700 resident University Village proposal for Ann Arbor's South University corridor has gotten a decent number of hits from this thread in the UrbanPlanet.org forums. One pseudonymous commenter completely misses my point:

So the person's objections about this project has to do with the large number of housing units it will provide in a soft housing market? From what I know even in a housing market like this there is still high demand for units near college campuses. If the developers didn't believe they could fill these buildings they wouldn't propose something at such a scale.

First of all, my objection to the project is not particularly an objection, nor is it specific to this project. What I'm concerned about is the general trend of a large quantity of campus-oriented housing being built all at once - along with a large quantity of general housing being built downtown at the same time . . . all in the worst housing market in 25 years. This particular project is 50% bigger than Bursley, UMich's largest on-campus dorm, and this is on top of the 3 other student-oriented projects underway. Even setting aside the large number of rental units already sitting vacant around town.

Oh please. (Or, South U gets a little over-excited.)

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In 2006, Ann Arbor loosened the zoning on the South University area, in the name of promoting some good, solid, mixed-use development. I'm fully in favor of this - South U's existing form, of strip malls at the sidewalk, has always seemed to me an underwhelming use of land, though I wasn't too happy about the first project that took advantage - the Zaragon Place replacement of the Anberay Apartments - what had been one of the best existing examples of compact urban housing in that area.

Calthorpe honored by ULI

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Peter Calthorpe, thoroughly fawned over architect turned New Urbanist planning and urban design principal and the name brand on Ann Arbor's recent well attacked downtown development steering plan, is apparently set to receive the Urban Land Institute's JC Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development.

If Calthorpe feels the slightest awkwardness at being honored by an industry that many intellectuals instinctively loathe, he isn't letting on.

"It feels great," he grinned after a breakfast conversation that caromed from topic to topic. "I find a lot of developers to be a lot more progressive than bureaucrats and neighborhood groups."

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