January 5, 2023

Can you guess what is pictured in the photo above? Click the image for the answer and more.

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you kept warm during last week’s winter storm, and enjoyed this week’s unseasonable bout of spring weather.

This week, a new apartment building was proposed on Broadway, the city approved a new police contract, and developers in Ann Arbor Township won a round of their legal battle to build a mobile home park. The Wolverines ended the year with a stinging defeat at the Fiesta Bowl, and Jim Harbaugh is rumored to be eyeing the NFL once again.

U-M scientists made a breakthrough discovery that could allow for PVC to be recycled, the Humane Society is waiving adoption fees for long-term residents of its shelter, and Bed, Bath & Beyond announced the imminent closure of their Arborland location.

Dayton Hare, editor

U-M psychiatrist Sagar Parikh was impressed when he first prescribed ketamine to people with treatment-resistant depression in 2012. “A number of them said, ‘I’ve started to feel a bit better, but you know what? I don’t think about death anymore.’” Photo: J. Adrian Wylie.

The News...Briefly

The county reported eighty-two new Covid-19 cases, three hospitalizations, and no deaths in the 24 hours ending this morning at 10 a.m. The current two-week snapshot was unavailable at time of publication. Statewide, the pandemic killed more than 8,900 people in 2022, a decline from the previous two years but enough to make Covid the state’s third-leading cause of death, Bridge reports.

The city approved a three-year contract with the main police union, MLive reports. The contract allows the department to consider past infractions over a longer period when disciplining officers for misconduct, a change that city leaders hailed as an important step in holding officers more accountable. The Ann Arbor Police Officers Association won a new pay scale that allows its members to reach the maximum wage level in ten years instead of eighteen.

The city is seeking feedback on its planned unarmed response team. Members of the public can share their opinions at three forums this month, the first at 1 p.m. Monday at the downtown library. Suggestions will inform the final recommendation to city council about the formation and structure of the program.

A man robbed the Circle K gas station at Packard and Stadium the day after Christmas, MLive reports. A young man reportedly became incensed when asked for his ID while attempting to buy rolling papers, retrieved a handgun from his car and stole the papers.

The Wolverines ended a charmed season with a bitter 51–45 defeat at hands of TCU Saturday, the Michigan Daily reports. The Fiesta Bowl loss broke Michigan’s season-long winning streak and put an end to their dreams of playing in Monday’s national championship game.

Sources close to Jim Harbaugh believe he’ll take an NFL job if it’s offered, the Athletic reports (subscriber exclusive). A year on from his flirtation with the Minnesota Vikings, rumors are swirling about the possibility of Harbaugh taking a head coach role with the Denver Broncos or Carolina Panthers.

Five Michigan offensive linemen have signed “name, image, and likeness” deals with a financial advising firm, ClickOnDetroit reports. Several of the linemen are anticipated to head to the NFL next season.

A seven-story, 206-apartment building has been proposed as the last phase of the Beekman on Broadway development, MLive reports. The group behind the recent transformation of the Lowertown area with two previous rental buildings originally intended to have condos in the third, but lackluster pre-sales convinced them to shift to more apartments. The pivot will require city council to amend the zoning conditions.

A developer is interested in buying the U-M Credit Union building on E. William to replace it with a student-centric high-rise, MLive reports. Core Spaces previously tried to buy air rights over the neighboring Library Lane parking structure, but voters blocked that in 2018 when they designated the lot a future central park.

Developers aiming to build Ann Arbor Township’s first manufactured housing community won a legal round, MLive reports. The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a local court’s decision that a 1975 order allowing a development at Warren Rd. and US-23 was unenforceable, sending the case back for reconsideration. The township has since rezoned the property, but the developers and property owners “have a site plan ready” should they prevail in court, Cynthia Furlong Reynolds reported in the September Observer.

A historic farmstead with roots in the county’s German-speaking past could be sold with new protections, MLive reports. Scio Township is taking steps to protect the Wild-Frey farmstead before they flip it to potential buyers, in an example of the “buy-protect-sell” model the township has recently used for other properties.

The Michigan-developed anesthetic ketamine is fast becoming a treatment for severe depression, Ken Garber reports in the December Observer. While the drug has been around since the middle of the last century, the first clinical trial on its use in treating depression wasn’t until 2000. Since then, practitioners have gradually started adopting it: In the last six years, the number of clinics using it has skyrocketed from around thirteen nationwide to an estimated 500.

U-M scientists announced a breakthrough in plastic recycling, MLive reports. In an article published in Nature, the team outlines how they used an electrochemical method to break down PVC, which is used in pipes and other heavy-duty applications, opening a path to future recycling.

Getting into U-M is no walk in the park, ClickOnDetroit reports. According to a list of both public and private colleges released by Niche, Michigan is the 61st-most difficult school in the country to gain admittance to.

Jenn Cornell Queen has been named the new director of the Ann Arbor Arts Center, ClickOnDetroit reports. Queen is an entrepreneur and newly-elected city council member representing Ward 5, and A2AC’s board chair said that she was chosen, among other reasons, for her “solid track record of fundraising for a range of nonprofit organizations.”

Former city administrator Tom Crawford has been named CFO of Ann Arbor SPARK, MLive reports. Crawford has been working under contract for the public-private nonprofit on a temporary basis since March, and recently agreed to a longer-term commitment.

Eastbound traffic on E. Ann between N. Ingalls and Glen will be detoured to N. Ingalls until Tuesday due to crane installation for a new nine-story development, MLive reports. The development is destined to be a hotel known as the Vanguard. Meanwhile, S. Fourth will be closed Mon.–Wed. Between Huron and Washington to establish a workzone for another crane at the Courthouse Square senior apartments.

A burst pipe at the City Club Apartments parking garage caused at least $10,000 of damage, CBS Detroit reports. Repairs could take weeks or even months.

The AADL has been named a “five-star library” for the fifteenth consecutive year, ClickOnDetroit reports. The library has received America Star Libraries' top rating every year since the organization created the rating system in 2008.

Ypsilanti kicked off a year of bicentennial celebrations on New Year’s Eve, Concentrate reports. Throughout the year the city will host events such as a time capsule unveiling, musical performances, a bus tour of Ypsilanti’s historic sites, and more. Follow the events on the bicentennial’s Facebook page.

A UPS driver came to the rescue of a prospective U-M student and his aunt when their car broke down, MLive reports. Donald Moorer not only arranged for a tow truck, but called his wife Brandy to keep the pair company until it arrived and then give them a tour of Ann Arbor. To cap it off, the Moorers invited the visitors to dinner at their Ypsi Township home–and then drove them home to Paris, Michigan.

El Limōn owner Ali Hijazi with longtime friend Lorenzo Viera-Patron. The two met years ago when both worked in the State St. district. Now they’re reunited at the fusion restaurant in Plymouth Road Mall. Photo by J. Adrian Wylie.

Marketplace Changes

Lebanese/Mexican fusion restaurant El Limōn opened its doors in the Plymouth Road Mall in November, Dave Algase reports in the January Observer. The restaurant’s halal menu includes dishes such as fattoush avocado salad, chicken shawarma burritos, falafel tacos, and more. Hijazi eloquently explains that the fusion is not artificial, as Muslims had profound influence in Spain for some 800 years in the Middle Ages.

A barber shop is taking the old Which Wich spot on E. Liberty, MLive reports. When it closed last January, the sandwich shop was the latest restaurant to fail in the recessed storefront at 301 E. Liberty, but the owner of the upcoming Barber Studio Ann Arbor is optimistic that its full range of men’s hairstyling offerings will prove to be a hit.

Ann Arbor holiday retail bounced back in 2022, WEMU reports. Sandra Andrade, executive director of the Main Street Association, says that retailers have been reporting sales numbers that are up from the pandemic years, with some even reaching 2019 levels.

Jim Brady’s Ann Arbor is closing its doors, owner Tom Brady announced on Instagram on Wednesday. Citing pandemic difficulties, Brady thanked the Main St. eatery’s customers and said that gift cards purchased at the Ann Arbor location will be honored at Jim Brady’s Royal Oak.

The Arborland Bed, Bath & Beyond will close in the coming months, MLive reports. The home décor giant is closing about 150 stores, and the Ann Arbor location will offer discounts of 25 to 50 percent until it closes its doors.

January's "I Spy" winner Dave Bicknell donated his gift certificate to the Humane Society of Huron Valley in honor of his new cat, Mingo, who found a home with him after passing through the shelter. Photo: Dave Bicknell.


The Humane Society is waiving adoption fees for several long-term residents, ClickOnDetroit reports. People interested in providing a home for dogs such as Nuggies or Princess Piggy, or cats like Drew or Pine Nut, can meet them at the shelter at 3100 Cherry Hill Rd.

United Way’s Equity Challenge returns this month, ClickOnDetroit reports. Starting Monday, participants in the free challenge can engage with 10–15 minute prompts relating to self-care, white supremacy, voter suppression, and honoring Michigan’s First People. Sign up online.

The nonprofit Maker Works announced a giving campaign in a press release this week. The organization serves the community by providing access to workshop space and tools for creators of all stripes, and has the aim of raising $50,000 by Jan. 15.

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

6 Friday: Catch L.A.-based comic Brad Wenzel, a Michigan native and master of one-liners, at the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase. Wenzel’s stage persona is a regular guy who occasionally abruptly detours into surrealism. Preceded by 2 opening acts. Alcohol is served. Jan. 5–7, 7:15 p.m. (Thurs.–Sat.) & 9:45 p.m. (Sat.), 212 S. Fourth Ave. $18 ($13 Thurs.) reserved seating in advance before 6 p.m. the night of the show; $20 ($15 Thurs.) general admission at the door. 996–9080.

7 Saturday: Join Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission naturalist Kelsey Dehring on a New Year Birding walk along the charming River Raisin. All levels of birders welcome. Bring your own binoculars. 8–10 a.m., Leonard Preserve, dead end of Union St. north off W. Main, Manchester. Free. Preregistration required at dehringk@washtenaw.org (capacity limited to 12).

8 Sunday: All invited to join SCRAP Creative Reuse representatives at Bløm Meadworks for a Craft & Drink” afternoon of reuse crafting. Crafting supplies provided. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for sale. 4–6 p.m., Bløm, 100 S. Fourth Ave. $7–15 (pay what you can) in advance at drinkblom.com or at the door. 548–9729.

See the Observer’s online calendar for many more local events. 

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