Liberty Lofts | An “Outstanding Example” Of Sustainable Development

ANN ARBOR, MI – The qualities that earned Liberty Lofts the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission’s Adaptive Reuse Award for 2006-2007 make it an “outstanding example of sustainable development,” according to an Ann Arbor city planner.

Jeff Kahan, who teaches sustainable land use at the University of Michigan, said, “Liberty Lofts is as good an example of sustainable development as you can find in Ann Arbor.”   He said the development demonstrates his five key components of sustainable land use:

•    Land use efficiency:  Liberty Lofts uses land efficiently by structuring units above ground floor parking.  This results in a small amount of hard surface per unit compared to typical low density development.
•    Mixed use:  In addition to residential uses, the site includes about 19,000 square feet of retail space that will provide opportunities for pedestrian activity.
•    Pedestrian-transit orientation:  Liberty Lofts is two blocks from Ann Arbor’s Main Street and four blocks from the bus station.
•    Natural systems protection:  The project mitigated a brownfield.  The site is designed to accommodate flood waters through the ground floor parking area, reducing flood plain impacts to surrounding properties.

Kahan’s fifth principle of sustainable development is adaptive reuse, the quality singled out by the Historic District Commission, whose announcement of the award said, “This former factory, built in 1928 and 1939 in the Old West Side Historic District, has been converted into condominiums and given new residential life to a former commercial space. A new addition, approved by the HDC, replaced the oldest building on the site (a former tannery dating to the 1860s), which was judged unsalvageable. The new addition harmonizes nicely with the old, and this project, known as Liberty Lofts, has greatly added to housing density downtown.”

“The reach of the sustainable design standards extends inside, into the both the experiential and technical design of the building and systems,” said Robb Burroughs, vice president of Ann Arbor’s Hobbs+Black Associates, architects for the project. “This includes a selection of low-emitting, recycled and renewable products for the interior finishes, including bamboo flooring; large expanses of energy-efficient low-e windows which promote natural daylight and ventilation while minimizing the need for artificial lighting; the reuse of the existing building exterior façade and interior structure; the inclusion of Energy-Star rated appliances for the individual residential units, and the modernization of the entire mechanical and electrical systems within the building itself.”

Executives from the development company, Morningside Group, will receive their award from Mayor John Heiftje at the May 7 Ann Arbor City Council meeting.

Other Morningside Group projects in Michigan and Illinois demonstrate the company’s commitment to adaptive reuse.  In their SkyLofts Royal Oak (MI) project, the Morningside team adapted a 1920s bank building for use as a jewelry store.  In Elmhurst, IL, Morningside restored an iconic downtown bank building, with the existing bank and new restaurants on the ground floor and offices above.

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.

Click here to visit the Liberty Lofts website!

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