Big changes in store for Monroe St, Dominicks in Ann Arbor?

The short stretch of Monroe Street on the University of Michigan's campus could undergo some radical changes within the next few years.

Those changes include turning part of the street next to the Law Quad into a pedestrian-only space and possible future expansion to Casa Dominick's, a local drinking institution for students and townies.

Dominick DeVarti started Casa Dominick’s on a shoe-string budget in 1960. The 2-story building overlooking the Law Quad has become famous for its Sangria and relaxing second-story patio.

The owners of Dominick's are asking Ann Arbor to approve a Planned Unit Development designation for the property that houses the business and two adjacent houses that serve as student rentals. The uses listed in the PUD include restaurant, residential apartments, offices and one or more bed and breakfasts.

Matthew Krichaum, an attorney representing Dominick's, says city officials asked the owners to request anything they would need within the next 50 years now instead of coming to the city in a piecemeal fashion.

The owners don't plan to change Dominick's atmosphere, but only make small changes in the long-term, such as adding outdoor seating, turning the rentals into a bed & breakfast or adding another floor to the back of the property.

"We're not asking for anything more than three stories," Krichaum says.

U-M officials have also formally asked the city to put the block of Monroe just west of Dominick's on a vacation. That's fancy planning speak for turning it into a pedestrian-only thoroughfare.

The reason is because the Law Quad is expanding to the surface parking lot across the street. University officials want to make it more continuous with the original Law Quad. However, that probably won't come until the project is complete in 2012.

"It will probably be a few years," says Jim Kosteva, director of community relations for the University of Michigan. "It's the desire of the university to close the street for everyday vehicles use in conjunction with the construction of the law school."

Source: Matthew Krichaum, an attorney representing Casa Dominick's and Jim Kosteva, director of community relations for the University of Michigan
Writer: Jon Zemke
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