ANN ARBOR, MI – “Liberty Lofts is extremely well-located for individuals interested in walking to downtown and University of Michigan destinations. It’s in the shadow of downtown. This allows residents easy access to all that downtown Ann Arbor has to offer.”
With that statement, Ann Arbor city planner Jeff Kahan perfectly summed up the appeal of the new Morningside Group development and demonstrated the success of the planning strategy which earned the city a gold level award in Michigan’s Promoting Active Communities competition last November.
Located at 315 Second Street, Liberty Lofts is just steps away from top Ann Arbor attractions. It’s two blocks from popular dining on Main Street, nine blocks from Zingerman’s, 10 blocks from the U of M Diag, two blocks from July’s Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair and five blocks from the downtown library.
The city of Ann Arbor continues to adopt policies and plans fostering walkability. In early January, city council adopted a Comprehensive City-wide Non-motorized Plan to foster alternative modes of transportation, including walking and cycling.
The commercial zoning in and around downtown allows residential uses by right, that is, without requiring any special approval. Executives from Morningside Group took advantage of that zoning when they redeveloped the former industrial building into 68 loft condominiums.
The organization getDowntown Ann Arbor promotes walking and non-motorized transportation at its website getDowntown.org. The program was created in 1999 by the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, the City of Ann Arbor and the Downtown Development Authority
History and economics explain increasing interest in walkability, according to Paul Fontaine, senior urban planner at JJR in Ann Arbor. In the early 20th century, planners created subdivisions to separate homes from the traffic, noise and smell of industrial areas. As more people owned cars, the on-off ramp replaced the train station as a retail magnet.
Cleaner industry and the rise of the service economy reduced the need to separate business and residential uses, while quality of life and environmental protection made the mingling of land uses a virtue.
“The founders of high-tech companies want to be in downtowns for the quality of life. They don’t need to be near highways, transportation or factories. They want to be where it’s fun to live. Google is a great example. They want to be where other creative folks live: Folks who think a little differently, who are used to different environments,” Fontaine said.
“People are now more conscious about getting into their automobiles. They’re happy if they only get into their car once a week.”
Loft owner John Chamberlin perfectly demonstrates Fontaine’s observation.
“My wife walks to work; I walk 15 minutes,” said Chamberlin, a U of M professor whose wife, Marsha, runs the Ann Arbor Art Center two blocks away. “Life is exactly what we hoped it would be. We like the space, we like being able to walk to places, not taking the car out. We went five days last week without being in the car.”
Many other Liberty Lofts residents feel the same way, “You can’t discount the fact that I’m a block and a half away from Starbucks,” said Eric Stabb, another owner. Once a week he walks to the Broken Egg restaurant, where he meets his father for breakfast.
Liberty Lofts is more than 90% sold and has seven residences remaining.
Founded in 1993, Morningside Group is a real estate development firm that specializes in creating premier mixed-use and multi-family developments in urban locations throughout the Midwest. Long recognized as a leader in the design and construction of highly acclaimed buildings, Morningside Group has built an enviable track record of successful public-private partnerships.
Morningside’s incomparable work ensures that each new development will join a growing portfolio of prized buildings which includes, in Michigan, SkyLofts Royal Oak and SkyLofts MarketSquare in Royal Oak and, in Illinois, Arbor Court and Prairie Town Center in Oak Lawn, Crescent Court and Museum Square in Elmhurst, Morningside Square in Downers Grove, The Glen Astor in Glen Ellyn and buildings in Evanston and Skokie.
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