Just north of the Huron River, two homes and a small apartment house stand forlornly between two U-M parking lots along Wall Street and Maiden Lane. They won’t be lonely much longer: the U, which owns all three buildings, is demolishing them to create additional parking. Though plans to build a parking deck on the block were recently shelved in favor of a proposed town-gown transit hub on Fuller, Jim Kosteva, U-M’s director of community relations, says that doesn’t eliminate the need for more surface parking–especially with the eight-story, 230,000-square-foot Brehm Center for diabetes research due to open next spring.
What about the vacant lot across Maiden Lane? The site of the proposed Broadway Village at Lower Town, it’s idle and weed-covered two years after Strathmore Development’s “groundbreaking,” and company president Scott Chappelle says he lacks the financing to proceed with the mega-project. But Kosteva says the university passed up a previous opportunity to “get involved” with the seven-acre property and isn’t pursuing it now. After the Pfizer deal, he suggests, U-M leaders may be “hesitant to take more property off the tax rolls in a non-strategic way.”