Ann Arbor's Lower Town project to break ground in late September

The Northside Grill can expect even more customers queuing up on its sidewalks now that the nearby Lower Town mega development, also called Broadway Village, is set to break ground by late September.

For years, the long time breakfast staple has been the marquee attraction in Ann Arbor's Lower Town district. The small commercial corridor at the intersection of Pontiac Trail and Plymouth Road has the city's oldest commercial structure that now houses a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store, harkening back to when the area was a thriving commercial center in the mid 1800s. Built to rival downtown, it has struggled since the University of Michigan chose to build at its current location more than a century ago.

All of that has the potential to change now that the developer, Strathmore Development Company, behind the Lower Town development has worked out a deal with the city that will allow the long-stalled project to begin. The agreement restructures the affordable housing requirement and eliminates a costly credit enhancement fee. The developer now intends to build the project in two phases, finishing it within 24 months of the start of construction.

The redevelopment replaces a vacant shopping center and a handful of other old commercial buildings on 7.3 acres at the southeast corner of Plymouth and Maiden Lane, kitty corner from the Northside and thrift store.

The project features seven buildings that will include residential, retail, medical and office space in a walkable, urban setting. Of the development's total 773,966 square feet, 226,118 square feet of it will be for upscale residential condominiums. Another 107,828 square feet will be dedicated to commercial retail space and 182,185 square feet will be built for office space. There will also be a 640-unit parking deck.

The developer choose to build on the brownfield site, because it is within a few blocks of the University of Michigan Hospital and the area is a popular place for UofM medical students and staff to live.

Scott Chappelle, president of the Strathmore, said by email that the Lower Town development will have an "extremely positive" impact on the area. "The Lower Town project will provide affordable housing, hundreds of jobs, public parking, an environmental clean up and redevelop the most blighted area in the City."

Source: Scott Chappelle, president of the Strathmore
Writer: Jon Zemke