Renovation and change

. May 16, 2012.

The fate of a proposed six-story apartment building between South Main Street and Ashley at West Mosley Street is in the hands of city planners, who could take it up this month and make a recommendation to the Ann Arbor City Council for approval as early as March. 

The 180-unit building, proposed by local developer Dan Ketelaar of Urban Group Development Co., is modeled after the warehouse brick and steel edifices of the Liberty Lofts and Argus buildings.

Developers say they want to attract young professionals in their mid 20s and 30s with a “hotel-like experience” that includes an indoor pool, multiple lounges, a business center, fitness center and community garden. Outdoor “green spaces” account for a third of the project footprint.

The apartments will feature recessed balconies and range in size from studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and penthouse units with rents likely in the $950 to $1,400 range.

Two levels of underground parking would fit about 140 spaces.  The building would have two or three ZipCars on site for tenants.

A handful of 1930s-era buildings, Deluxe Drapery, Fox Tent & Awning and Ivory Photo would be demolished for the new construction.

The city’s Design Review Board made some minor proposals at its November meeting to the building’s fencing and landscaping to open the entrance to the sidewalk.

Some residents voiced concerns back in November about parking problems in the area and whether the building height will block their view of the downtown skyline.

The City Council has ultimate approval authority, which usually follows Planning Commission decisions by about six weeks, according to city planner Jeff Kahan.

Around town

Bloomfield Hills-based Lakeside Software has opened a research and development center downtown above Vinology. Lakeside, which secured tax incentives from the Michigan Economic Development Center last Spring, was having trouble attracting top talent to its Bloomfield Hills headquarters. Executives said Ann Arbor won out over Silicon Valley.“The proximity to the University of Michigan and the high quality of life in Ann Arbor for our staff make it an ideal choice for our expansion,” Lakeside CEO Mike Schumacher said. “We found that there is a thriving software development community in Ann Arbor and we are excited to be joining it with this new facility.” The company says it is hiring a dozen software developers for the new operation with plans to add a total of 70 people here over the next seven years. “We’re excited to be expanding in Michigan and in the Ann Arbor area. Michigan is technology-friendly and offers a wealth of technology talent that we will employ to drive our continued growth,” Schumacher said. Lakeside was recently designated Technology Company of the Year by Automation Alley, a Michigan technology business association.

Matt Kraner, the president and CEO of AnnArbor.com, is leaving the newspaper and website for a newly created post of president at its sister site, NJ.com. Kraner, who has been with the startup since its July 2009 launch, leaves this month, according to the news outlet. NJ.com is a news site that covers the state of New Jersey owned by Advance Digital.

Local software company Menlo Innovations is expanding and moving into larger digs across town at the once abandoned Tally Hall on East Liberty Street. The company signed a 10-year-lease for 16,900 square feet at the bottom floor of The Offices at Liberty Square, that once housed the headquarters of bookstore chain Borders and is anchored by the University of Michigan student-led incubator, TechArb, which occupies 30,000 square feet. Menlo Innovations has 25-full-time employs and another 15 contractors. Developers will work in open space without assigned desks or offices.Since the new space is not visible from the outdoors, Menlo plans to install a two-way video screen and camera on Liberty Street, where passersby can interact with Menlo developers and watch them work. The company will move into its new office space around April, according to reports.

Weber’s Hotel and Restaurant recently completed $2.5 million in renovations that include updating the interior and exterior for a more modern look. Outside, the entrance was enhanced while, on the inside, the pool area, lobby area and banquet halls were redone.